‘Being honest at work could cost me my job’ – Bright Horizons study reveals parental fear

by Freya Lucas

February 20

Working parents are worried that if they open up and be honest about their family responsibilities, asking for flexible working arrangements or time off, it could cost them their jobs, according to the  sixth-annual Modern Family Index(MFI), commissioned by Bright Horizons and conducted by Kelton Global.

 

The study revealed that ‘not much has changed’ in the last six years as working parents continue to struggle to manage work and family commitments.

 

According to the most recent MFI, 32 per cent of working parents worry about getting fired, 28 per cent were concerned that they will be denied a raise, and 26 per cent felt they would be overlooked for promotions because of family responsibilities.

 

The survey also showed more working parents are leaving work to attend to family responsibilities than they were in 2014, with 54 per cent leaving unannounced to respond to family emergencies, up from 47 per cent in the previous survey. 

 

One in four respondents said they fake sick days to tend to family responsibilities, and the number of parents who are suffering from burnout has increased by a third since 2015, with the pressure of being constantly available taking its toll. Not being able to unplug from work was a key contributor to burnout for 38 per cent of respondents, who said that their bosses, senior leaders and peers expect them to be accessible to tackle work outside of their normal schedule, encroaching on family time and personal responsibilities and obligations.

 

Bright Horizons Chief Human Resources Officer Maribeth Bearfield said that the MFI data points to the need for more to be done to support working parents, and to create work environments in which all employees feel comfortable being honest and transparent about their family obligations. 

 

“There are some easy strategies employers can adopt to help alleviate stress, mental load, and burnout and improve workplace culture. Especially in a tight talent market, employers need to be doing as much as they can to attract and retain working parents,” she added. 

 

The cumulative impact of being stretched thin at work and at home, keeping up with the little lies to get by, needing to attend to family responsibilities, and facing disappointment from family members exacerbates the stress working parents feel. 

 

Crucially for employers, a number of respondents said employees are willing to move on from employers who fail to provide a supportive environment. 

 

“It is time for all employers to focus attention on the needs of their workforce or risk being left behind in the war for talent,” Ms Bearfield said. 

 

To download the full Sixth Annual Bright Horizons Modern Family Index report, please click here.

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