It is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted businesses worldwide. Many companies have had to change to stay afloat, and many employed parents have had their hours or jobs cut. One group that these changes have particularly hard hit is working parents.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Hulu is one of the many firms cutting back on parental leave from 20 to eight weeks, while its parent firm, Disney, offered employees it would assist cover abortion-related travel expenses after Roe v. Wade was reversed.
Hulu, which is controlled by Disney, agreed in June to pay for employees’ travel expenses if they go out of state for abortions and committed to providing medical care, including abortion services. Hulu is one of several businesses cutting back on parental leave alternatives because of cost concerns, according to the WSJ.
Netflix, for example, offers its U.S. employees up to one year of paid parental leave, while Facebook provides up to four months. But as the costs of providing these benefits continue to rise, some companies are beginning to scale back their offerings.
It’s not just parental leave that’s being affected by these cost-cutting measures. Some firms are also starting to reexamine their stance on other benefits like fertility treatments and adoption assistance. With the rising cost of healthcare and a challenging economy, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to justify offering these costly perks to their employees.
Besides these policies, many who utilized childcare were compelled to isolate themselves, unable to expose their children or families to the additional danger of another person. Parents just attempted to get through the day by utilizing televisions and tablets as de facto babysitters.
Many people found that they had to become homeschool instructors quickly in addition to the responsibilities of parent and breadwinner. Many working parents have felt the pay for these problems in various industries, and it is expected to significantly impact the world of work and working parents’ roles at work moving forward.
According to data, the pandemic has driven working parents to take on a greater proportion of their employer’s responsibilities. Working parents have taken on an excessive amount of loss, stress, and obligations as a result of the epidemic. Being a working parent was already difficult before Covid-19; however, it is crucial to realize what the work environment used to be like and how much easier or more difficult it is now.
It’s been just over a year since the pandemic started, and many working parents are finding it difficult to adjust to the ‘new normal.’ Companies have instituted new policies that have made it tough for parents to manage work and child care.
The alarming statistics highlight the need for companies to do more to support working parents. Companies need to offer child care benefits or subsidies so that working parents can afford to keep their jobs.
In addition, companies need to be more flexible with their policies and procedures. Companies need to make it easier for working parents to telecommute or work from home when necessary.
Statistics of Working Parents Amid Pandemic
1) Corporate Companies Cut Back on Paid Leaves Post Pandemic
After expanding parental leave policies to pre-pandemic levels in 2020, businesses have largely reverted them to previous ones after backing them up during the pandemic. According to a new employee benefits survey by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), just 35% of businesses now provide paid parental leave over what is mandated by law, down from 53% in 2020 and 44 percent in 2020.
So, why the reductions? Inflation is said to be one of the reasons. They are safeguarding resources and cash for a recession on the horizon by cutting parental leave benefits. What aggravates many parents is that the number of businesses that provide paid vacation and sick leave has risen. According to SHRM’s poll, 99% of firms give paid vacation, and 96% give paid sick pay, up 1% from 2020.
2) Fewer Mothers Engaged in Full-Time Jobs
Data from the Pew Research Center in 2019 showed how Americans struggled to balance parenting with employment. In that year, 72% of mothers worked- 55% full time- which is significantly lower than the 89% of fathers who held full-time positions.
This study provided additional data that may help explain why few mothers actively participate in the workforce. At the same time, 82% of fathers felt that working full time was best for them, and only 51% of mothers held this same opinion.
To fully parent their school-age children, 53% of moms said they had to cut back on their hours, and 51% felt they couldn’t give 100 percent at work.
In addition to potentially making it more difficult for women to advance in their careers, parenting can also lead to a greater sense of work-life balance among working moms. Internalized pressures and different parental expectations, family responsibilities as well as certain institutional preconceptions are all likely contributors.
3) Due To The Lack Of Gender Inclusivity, Mothers Still Experience Bias In Corporate American Workflow
The well-known 2007 study showed that mothers often face bias in the workplace. The test used fictional job candidates to see if there was any bias against mothers during the hiring process. Only 47% of women who said they had children were invited back, against 84% of women without. What’s more, mothers were recommended salaries of $11,000 less than childless candidates.
A 2018 analysis of mothers in the labor force worldwide found that two particular attitudes were prevalent: first, that working women can be a detriment to their children and families; and second, that traditional gender roles should be upheld, with women staying home to raise children and fathers being the breadwinners.
4) Risk Of Recession Continues To Haunt Working Parents
The specter of a recession is looming, and many working parents are feeling the effects. A recent study found that 41% of respondents said they were “extremely” or “very” worried about the economy, and 32% were concerned about their jobs.
In addition to the stress of a potential recession, working parents must contend with the rising cost of childcare. According to a Child Care Aware America report, the average cost of center-based care for an infant in 2018 was $16,549 per year, or about $33 per day.
5) Low Wage Policies Make All Women Workers Suffer
The pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-wage workers, most of whom are women.
The economic downturn has hit these workers hard. A recent study found that 41% of low-wage workers have lost their jobs since the pandemic began. For women of color, the numbers are even higher: 47% of Black women and 46% of Latinas working in low-wage jobs have lost their jobs since February 2020.
These job losses have been devastating for families trying to make ends meet. In many cases, working mothers now have to choose between paying for child care or putting food on the table.
6) Lack Of Flexible Hours In Work Arrangement Has Become A Huge Struggle For Working Parents
With schools and daycares closed, parents have had to scramble to find childcare options that work for their families.
At the same time, many employers have been slow to adapt their policies to the new reality of working from home with children. A recent survey found that only 24% of employers offer increased flexibility regarding hours and location. This lack of flexibility can make it difficult for parents to do their jobs and care for their children simultaneously.
In dealing with parenting alone, they also face unique challenges at work. According to a recent survey, working fathers are likelier to report high stress, anxiety, and burnout than working fathers. They are also more likely to say they have been passed over for promotions or raises since the pandemic began.
The Reason Parents Are Quitting Jobs
The most compelling evidence was the increase in “collaborating time.” Between February 2020 and February 2022, for example:
- There was a 252% increase in weekly Teams meetings!
- According to the 2021 Trends Report, employees sent 6 billion more emails.
- We were communicating more frequently;
- The average post-work hours increased by 28%.
For some, this only meant worrying about staying alive and keeping our loved ones safe. However, this newfound uncertainty caused a rise in mental illness.
In a Pew Research poll, sixty-eight percent of those who quit their jobs in 2021 cited feeling disrespected at work as the reason for doing so, and 45% said insufficient flexibility to pick when they work was a factor. Nearly half responded that childcare difficulties were a cause of their departure from a position.
What Do Working Parents Want?
During the epidemic, far too many workers were pushed past their breaking points.
Data from Gallup’s Survey of U.S. Employees’ Job Preferences back up these perspectives. When evaluating whether to accept new employment offered by a prospective employer, 13,085 American workers were asked in the survey what their most essential priority was. Out of the employees surveyed, 61% said that having a better work-life balance and personal well-being were their top priorities. And since this global resignation has shifted the power dynamic, employees can now demand more than before.
What Can Businesses Do?
Support Mental Health Issues
Employees are now more focused on creating a work-life balance, maintaining mental health, and having flexibility.
According to a Mercer survey of over 10,000 individuals, employees report a significant amount of stress, worry, burnout, and dread, and employers are listening.
From the business standpoint, employers must understand that power has shifted to employees. Employers must redouble organizational efforts to create a place where workers want to work by developing and maintaining a positive culture that encourages rather than destroys employees.
Hybrid And Return To Office Policies
The future of the office is being re-imagined by digital technology firms like Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). And it’s understandable why these businesses would want to do so. HPE conducted an internal poll to determine how many of its employees wanted to work at a shared physical location for just 20% or less of their time, and almost two-thirds said they would.
The findings assisted senior executives in deciding that their entire 60,000-person company would be hybrid in the future. The atmosphere at the workplace will also change, with more zones dedicated to interacting and socializing. HPE will also provide benefits such as takeaway dinner meals and necessities so that employees may cook at home rather than in their offices.
Paid Leave Policies
Since the pandemic began, 40% of employees have worked for a company that has expanded or started providing paid leave benefits. A few worldwide businesses have excelled further by expanding their paid leave policies.
Google increased parental leave from 18 to 24 weeks. Furthermore, the amount of paid vacation days is being increased from 15 days up to 20.
The Gartner 2021 ReimagineHR Employee Survey, conducted by Brian Kropp, chief of research in the Gartner HR practice, looked at 3,500 individuals’ responses and found that they desire more equality. “In 2022, creating a more equitable employee experience will be the most crucial work for H.R. executives,” said Brian Kropp of Gartner. “To do so, businesses must go beyond regulations to create worldviews.”
To address the significant disadvantage of gender inequality, the Canadian government has implemented a new initiative to increase female employment. The federal and provincial governments have partnered up to help reduce the costs of childcare, which disproportionately affects women and minority groups. Parents will only be responsible for $10 per day per child until April 1, 2022.
While we have come a long way, leaders cannot become complacent in the fight for equity. The workplace of the future must be inclusive for all.
The World Bank reports that over 120 countries have introduced new or expanded current worker protection policies to cope with the pandemic. The majority of these, however, focus more on physical safety guidelines instead of psychosocial safety guidelines. But there is some good news! Countries such as Australia and Canada are spearheading this change.
The Working for Workers Act, passed by the Canadian province of Ontario, seeks to assist employees in disconnecting from their job obligations after work hours. On June 2, 2022, the right-to-disconnect provision goes into effect. Work-related communications include:
- Sending or receiving other messages via email.
- Phone calls.
- Video conferences.
- Posting or reviewing other materials.
We anticipate these standards, policies, and laws will become more prevalent shortly. Although we think it’s preferable when leaders safeguard their people’s well-being without fearing legislation, employee safety must be protected by law.