As working parents juggle their own work schedules, back-to-school duties and other child care challenges, their employers have left them feeling cold.
Since the start of the pandemic, millions of working parents have left the workforce, and they have yet to fully rebound from COVID’s impact. While schools and child care centers have reopened, parents are still struggling with high levels of burnout, along with dissatisfaction around the support they’re receiving from their employers.
“Parents are really in need of help — during the pandemic, they had a lot of tough challenges, but those are still persistent,” says Andrew Monroe, director of experienced talent research at Veris Insights, a recruiting analytics platform. “Parents have never really had a chance to dig out from the deficit that they experienced during the pandemic.”
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A March survey by child care provider Bright Horizons found that 38% of parents planned to look for a new job in 2022, and 35% said their employer was unsympathetic to their needs as working parents. If employers want to attract this group, they need to change their approach, Monroe says.
“We’ve got roughly two jobs open for every active job seeker, so there really isn’t an option for employers to take a relaxed stance on what’s necessary to win the war for talent,” he says. “We need a slightly different approach for working parents, and it can’t be one-size-fits-all. That’s going to be a losing strategy.”
Employers can greatly benefit from having working parents on their roster, Monroe says — working parents are more engaged and motivated than other demographics in the workplace. And as younger groups begin to start their families, the work organizations do today will pay off in the future.
“The need for benefits related to child care and flexibility are really much more important to parents, but also something that’s much more rare in offerings from employers,” Monroe says. “But the group of working parents is expanding, as millennials and Gen Z start to think about starting families. You really need to plan for how you’ll attract parents, or you’re going to miss out on a huge pool of talent.”
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Post-pandemic, just 10% of employers offer some sort of child care benefit, like stipends or emergency back-up care, according to the Harris Poll. These programs can go a long way to attracting prospective employees, while retaining the staff you have now, Monroe says.
Job stability and flexible work policies are two other areas that are extremely appealing to working parents — stressing these attributes in job postings is a good place to start, Monroe says. For the parents who already work at your organization, embracing remote and hybrid work arrangements will be a must.
“The data could not be more clear from parents that they’re looking for flexible work options. They’re looking for work-life balance. They’re looking for hybrid options to help cope with a lot of the challenges that they’ve encountered over the last few years,” Monroe says. “Employers need to have a message about why their company and why the jobs at their company are not just going to be here for two to three months, but are good, stable jobs for the long haul.”