Our annual Work+Family Snapshot drew responses from 1,680 employees, from over 100 of our client organisations. 95% of respondents have caring responsibilities for children, elderly or dependent relatives, or a combination of these.
Gender and generation
The snapshot also shines a light on gender and generational differences. Family-friendly support is important to both genders, but even more so to women (more often choosing 'greatly increases' vs 'increases' likelihood to stay), perhaps not surprising in the context of the compromises women still make when it comes to combining work and family.
Interestingly family-friendly support also has a similarly bigger impact on loyalty for Gen X than Gen Y, perhaps a reflection of Gen X's 'gratitude' for support and Gen Y's expectation of it. But whatever generation or gender, done properly, being visibly family-friendly is a powerful tool for employers. As one employee put it:
"I can't work for an employer that doesn't get this. It's impossible. If they are understanding, why or how would I leave?!"
Talent retention and attraction
Talent retention and attraction are top of mind for most employers, and the Snapshot underlines the business benefit of supporting working parents and carers, who will likely make up over a third of an organisation's workforce. The art for employers is about enabling working parents and carers to apply their talents productively at work while fulfilling their values at home.
We know from experience that this requires a combination of practical benefits and services, organisational culture (including manager guidance) and programmes for individual development and wellbeing.
Life isn't getting any easier
Life isn't getting any easier for most working parents and carers, only 29% said 'easier', while 44% said 'harder' and 27% said 'about the same'. Although there are gender and generational differences, broadly speaking this is attributable to increased care responsibilities and increased pressure from work.
Flexibility valued most
No surprises here. Flexible or agile working was one of the most important building blocks, rated most highly by nearly 75% of respondents. That this large population selected Backup Care in second place to flexible working as the most valued service was a notable finding. This makes good sense in the context of 64% of working parents experiencing care breakdowns (on average 4.3 days in the last 12 months) and only 24% feeling able to depend on family or friends to help with care responsibilities at short notice.
A lesson for employers
With growing cultural and legislative pressures on issues such as gender diversity, wellbeing and mental health, and later retirement, employers ignoring the parenting and caring aspects of these just aren't seeing the full picture.
Employers are also waking up to the message that working parents or carers who drop out of their workforce are as likely to emerge in a more leading-edge competitor firm rather than simply staying home with the kids.