- Fewer than half of employers responding to a recent Willis Towers Watson survey agreed that their programs and policies were effectively meeting the needs of working parents, the firm said in a Sept. 17 announcement.
- That's despite 74% of respondents saying that supporting such employees is "a top priority today," Willis Towers Watson said. Turnover has become an issue, too, as one in four respondents reported talent leaving due to increased caregiving responsibilities.
- Flexible work hours, offered by 97% of represented companies, were a common offering for working parents in the survey. More than a quarter provided access to backup childcare services or discounts or subsidies to childcare centers, tutoring or other educational resources. Other options explored by employers included subsidized backup childcare days, dependent care spending account subsidies and concierge services.
The survey results echo what has been observed by other researchers in recent months. Namely, caregiving responsibilities, including child care, are impacting workers’ ability to return to work or stay focused at work.
Last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reported survey results in which employers cited child care as a barrier to employees' ability to fully return to work. But caregiving and its necessities troubled employees even before the pandemic. In January, business-to-business review platform Clutch found that a scarcity of child care benefits had caused financial hardship, job performance problems and turnover.
The pandemic's impact on a new school year has heightened concerns for employers. In an opinion piece for HR Dive, Larry English, president at Centric Consulting, called the situation "nothing short of an HR crisis in the making." Employers, he added, can support working parents not only by introducing more flexible schedules but also by implementing a "life comes first" culture as well as an environment in which employees feel comfortable sharing their stories.
In an August survey by Monster, 75% of working-parent respondents said they viewed scheduling flexibility as a way for employers to support them. And as Willis Towers Watson's findings show, some employers like education company Chegg have introduced childcare reimbursement benefits.
Managerial training may also be a point for HR teams to emphasize. A July survey by the Disability Management Employer Coalition found more than half of employers said supervisors had not received training on workplace benefits and resources for caregivers.