Despite flexible schedules and work locations, working parents are struggling with roadblocks related to work-life balance, child care and loneliness, according to a May 15 report from child care provider Bright Horizons.
About 58% of working parents said the increased schedule flexibility provides relief and fulfillment. However, a remote or hybrid setting can lead to isolation. About 47% said they only talk to people in their household, and 41% said they go days without setting foot outside the house. Gen Z and Millennial parents seem to be particularly affected by these challenges.
“Many working parents are struggling personally and professionally. While they have embraced a more flexible work environment, it has come with unintended consequences that are impacting their mental health and their ability to manage life’s responsibilities,” Stephen Kramer, CEO of Bright Horizons, said in a statement.
“The moment is now for employers to step in to fill these voids,” he said. “This includes clearly defined benefit programs, mental and professional support services, as well as access to quality child and adult care.”
In a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. working parents, 40% said they don’t have access to the child care they need, with 41% citing cost as a barrier. It’s affecting work, too — half of these parents said their productivity at work suffers when they’re stressed about child care.
Many of these workers are turning to their employers for help, the report found. About half said they wish their employers would do more, such as offering to help pay for child care, providing on-site child care, or setting up a flexible spending account (FSA) for child care expenses. Emergency child care and regular child care ranked among the top five benefits that employees said would make them more likely to stay with their company.
Nationwide, the lack of reliable child care is costing parents, employers and taxpayers about $122 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue each year, according to a recent report. For employers, this could add up to more than $1,600 in reduced revenue per working parent.
To address the need, the Biden administration has released a budget proposal that includes provisions for affordable child care, universal preschool and up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Although the budget won’t likely pass Congress with these sections intact, some aspects may gain bipartisan support and grow in popularity among employers.