Raising children has always been hard work. Incredibly rewarding, of course, but hard work nonetheless. Raising children and maintaining a career is even more difficult in 2023, as the costs of childcare continue to rise. (They now average around $10,600 per child). In fact, some families find it more affordable to have one parent leave their job to stay home and care for their children instead of remaining at a job that may not pay enough. While everyone’s child-rearing choices are personal, no one should be forced out of the job market simply because they can’t afford childcare.
The financial hurdles of parenthood can greatly contribute to a working parent’s job dissatisfaction and even workplace stress and distraction. This is bad news for parents—and the businesses who employ them—with the lack of affordable childcare for infants and young children now costing businesses an estimated $122 billion annually in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.
So, what can you do to help?
In this article, you’ll learn about all the ways you can support working parents in your organization—as well as why it’s important to do so in the first place. Let’s start there: with the why.
The struggles that working parents face today
Understanding how to support someone starts with recognizing and empathizing with their struggles. Knowing how to support working parents in your workforce is no different. Here are some of the challenges working parents may be currently facing in your organization, and in organizations worldwide:
Parents can be misunderstood or labeled as “less invested” in their careers simply because they have children. The responsibility of raising a child is often seen as too much to handle alongside a successful career. Every mistake a working parent makes is chalked up to them being more committed to their home life than their work life. This is even more prevalent in work cultures that prioritize long hours and lots of travel, but it can crop up in other environments as well.
Added pressure at home & work
Finding and maintaining a sustainable work-life balance is tough for pretty much everyone; add a child or two into the mix and it’s a whole other ball game. Growing a family doesn’t take other key responsibilities away from parents—it just adds to the list.
Parents find themselves needing to manage so much more when they have children: childcare, learning and development, meal planning, activities, and more. At the same time, they still have a personal and professional list of responsibilities to tend to.
Exhaustion & burnout
The stress of balancing a personal and professional life when also trying to raise children is draining. It leaves very little time for self-care activities, like working out, seeing friends, or anything else parents might have done before having kids to take care of their mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. It’s easy to brush this off with a ‘they knew this before they had kids,' but the reality is this wouldn’t be the case if parents had the support they needed.
The unpredictability of parenthood challenges parents worldwide every day. Maybe it’s waking up to—or, more likely, being woken up by—a sick child. Perhaps it’s childcare that falls through at the last minute. Most recently, it might be the need to homeschool children for the foreseeable future. The list is endless. This gives parents very little ability to plan and schedule their lives—both professionally or personally. This can create added workplace stress, especially when it comes to inflexible workspaces or managers.
How supporting parents can support your business
Saving money on turnover has become increasingly important in today’s tight labor market and uncertain economy. The fact is, companies can lose billions replacing working parents who leave their jobs each year. According to this report:
“Lack of affordable childcare not only suppresses workforce productivity but keeps many parents out of the workforce; and employers are losing $23 billion annually in the form of reduced revenues and inflated recruiting costs to replace them.”
Businesses that support working parents benefit from greater employee loyalty and retention, reducing the need to spend on replacing lost talent, which can be a huge burden to your budget.
When you reduce burnout by supporting working parents, it also improves your company’s overall productivity and level of employee engagement. Research from Ohio State University found that 66% of parents meet the criteria for parental burnout—so exhausted by the responsibility of raising a child(ren) that they feel they’ve nothing left to give.
When working parents are free from burnout, studies show they are:
- 35x more likely to recommend their employer
- 12x more likely to quickly adapt to change
- 10x more likely to give extra
The benefits for business are obvious, and stem from the fact that employees feel more supported by their employer.
3 ways companies and employers can support working parents
1. Financial wellness
The cost of raising a child is about $17,000 a year, depending on where you live and what you earn. While families with lower incomes spend less overall, government studies show they devote a larger share of their budgets to their children. The point? Raising kids is expensive, and a major consideration when deciding whether to start a family or not. Your company can support parents and prospective parents by making it more financially viable to be a working parent.
One way you can better support working parents is to ensure they have faster access to the wages they earn, not just every two weeks. Earned Wage Access enables employees to access up to 50% of their earned wages before their next paycheck—meaning they’re better able to manage any unexpected expenses or emergencies.
Another way you can support the parents in your workforce is with family-oriented stipends and benefits. Here are some that companies are increasingly adopting:
- Flexible parental leave. Give your team more time to adjust to parenthood with more maternity time off and paternity time off.
- New family stipends. Offer new parents a stipend to be spent on whatever they need—lactation classes, postpartum services, healthcare, and more.
- Childcare stipends. Support working parents by subsidizing the childcare they’ll likely need to continue working at your organization.
- Fertility benefits. Fertility treatments can cost upwards of $50,000—support your workforce on their path to parenthood by offering fertility stipends.
- Adoptions benefits. Adoption, similarly to fertility treatment, is costly—help your employees on their path to parenthood with adoption stipends and support.
The best way to find out what your workforce needs is to ask them. The benefits of this are two-fold.
First, you get to hear exactly what your team wants and needs from family benefits—ensuring you hit the mark with what you offer. It also shows your employees you care and are proactively working towards making your organization a more employee-focused company.
2. Work schedule flexibility
Remote work and flexible work are two very different things, yet they’re often conflated. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work, but flexibility is still trailing behind in many workplaces that aren’t able to offer a remote work option.
According to a recent study, 64% of working parents are considering changing careers for a better work-life balance. Jamie LaDuca, a working parent who swapped her corporate career to start her own business partly due to inflexible work schedules, found that life became a lot more manageable when she was able to decide her working hours:
“I am very fortunate, and I realized that—I have been able to make a leap and change the way that my career works and make it kind of fit. But not everybody has that ability.”
Providing flexibility to employees—focusing on output instead of presenteeism—is key for retaining working parents. And even in industries where flexibility is lacking, providing greater scheduling flexibility—the ability to easily swap shifts or pick the hours that work best for each employee—can go a long way. Plus, we’re sure your non-parent workers will also appreciate it.
3. Employee resource groups and community
Becoming a parent is daunting; it’s easy to feel isolated and alone, as well as completely unprepared for the journey.
Help your employees feel supported with a working parent resource group, where they can connect and chat with others working parents facing similar issues. The platform can also be used to provide helpful learning resources for common worries faced by working parents. Things like finding childcare, organizing healthcare, understanding and supporting early-stage development, and more.
You could also consider a resource group for employees looking to start a family via other routes. One in eight Americans are affected by infertility, and it can be a lonely and confusing experience. Connect them with others in the same situation, and support them in their search for fertility clinics and specialists to help them on their journey. The same goes for employees looking to adopt; it’s important to support the various pathways to parenthood faced by your team.
Support working parents and see retention soar
Keeping parents in the workforce means caring for them. It’s important to remember: they often don’t leave because they want to, they leave because they have to. Help them stay by making sure they’ve got the support they need to raise children and enjoy a successful career—you’ll both be better for it.
Life is already stressful enough for working parents—payday doesn’t need to add to that. Get in touch with us today to find out how you can enhance your employee experience through our free suite of financial tools, from earned wage access and instant tip and mileage disbursements to 1099 payments, financial wellness tools, and more.