The U.K. is home to 6.2 million couples with dependent children. Of these, 31 per cent of couples with dependants both work full-time; which is up from 26 per cent in 2001.
This upward trend is indicative of the situation for many working parents: juggling your career with your family life is on the rise.
In the social media-focused world we live in, it can sometimes appear that some parents manage to cope with both their career and home life perfectly, but how true is this?
For many working parents, there is a pressure to strike the perfect balance, and the reality of the situation is that progressing your career with a family is not always easy.
How much of this is down to the individual, and how much is to do with the inherent structures within the working world?
Can employers be doing more to help working parents balance their lives with ease? Let’s take a closer look at the realities of working parents and what more employers can do to help redress the challenge.
Modern Family Pressures – The Gender Divide
Raising a family at the same time as progressing your career is not an easy task. A recent Working Families report shone some light on the reality of the situation for many working parents in the UK. Their latest report from 2019 found that despite increased job prospects for women, the balance was still one-sided in terms of women enjoying the same employment freedom as men.
Even with the increasing numbers of women in the workplace, they are still outnumbered in full-time positions by men. The tradition of the mother staying at home to raise the family is still prevalent. Despite 9.3 million women in the U.K. working full-time, 40% of women in employment work part-time compared to just 13% of men.
The COVID lockdown experience also exposed the gender divide. The Guardian reported that during the lockdown, mothers in the U.K. typically provided 50% more childcare and between 10% - 30% more time homeschooling their children than their male counterparts.
Working mothers still face significant challenges when it comes to their careers and raising a family simultaneously.
The Financial Strain of Raising A family
The Working Families report also revealed that 49 per cent of respondents stated that they thought it was getting financially more challenging to raise a family over the last three years – with less than a quarter saying it had got easier.
Some individuals reported increasing their working hours to boost their income, and mothers, rather than fathers were more likely to have done this.
Of course, each family is different, but financial pressures of family life can become interwoven with job and career thoughts. For women who find themselves reducing hours, or perhaps staying on a part-time contract to be responsible for family duties, this can cause feelings of resentment and even be damaging to their career in the long-run.
Has Technology Helped?
The report found that for some individuals, technology has added to, rather than reduced workloads. Not being able to switch off is an increasing problem which employers need to address.
Many employees feel that they are never off duty due to being expected to answer work emails or messages on-demand due to the smart-phone culture we all experience.
Think about the roles in your organisation – are there individuals who are always seemingly on-duty?
Increasing numbers of people find it hard not to dip into work when they are at home; our culture of being connected allows it to happen with alarming ease.
But this can be detrimental to family life; parents often feel guilty when they think they do not have the time to focus on their families.
If you suspect employees are overworking themselves, this can be a worry. Never switching off from your role can lead to stress and even burnout. One in five employees has taken a sick day due to stress, with a quarter of individuals considering leaving a job because of work pressures.
Family-Friendly Roles and Organisations
Having a senior role in an organisation can mean more time flexibility; though not always.
The fact remains that to help working parents, there needs to be a higher degree of flexibility within organisations and across the spectrum of positions.
This can only be achieved by managers coming to a realisation and understanding with their employees about flexible schedules and other changes which can benefit working parents.
Both mothers and fathers use flexitime equally as an option to fit around childcare, yet mothers are more likely to reduce their hours to help look after families.
Are you fully aware of the situations of employees who are also currently raising families?
I recently published a blog about the importance of the relationship between manager and employer. 75% of employees resign due to a poor relationship with their manager, and this often stems from leaders acting without compassion.
No employer wants to lose a talented team member, and if the employee feels compelled to leave because their employer has not met their personal needs, it can be an even harder pill to swallow.
Employees who work for organisations where flexible working is available enjoy a better overall work-life balance. This, in turn, creates more satisfied employees and thus strengthens your business – it’s a win-win.
If employers can increase flexibility for employees to create a better working environment, provide a healthier work-life balance and strengthen working relationships between manager and employee – this must be done.
Designing better jobs for employees is the key to high employee satisfaction and retention – two of the critical tenets of a successful organisation.
If your organisation needs talented and empathetic managers and senior leaders to lead your team to success – we can help.
We’ve got over 35 years’ experience recruiting board, senior and managerial roles - get in touch with us today on 01905 381320 or contact us here to find out how we can help you recruit your next leader.
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