53% are not comfortable discussing family-related matters with their employer

Sarah Jackson OBE

Over half (53%) of respondents would not feel confident discussing family-related issues with their employer, according to research by Working Families and Bright Horizons.

Modern families index 2018: how employers can support the UK’s working families, a report which surveyed 2,761 working parents in the UK, also found that around 23% of respondents have reduced their working hours to try and get a better fit between work and family life. This is compared with 14% who work flexibly on an informal basis to achieve this.

The research also found:

  • 31% of respondents are effectively prevented from working flexibly, and 35% of respondents who do work flexibly state that their work-life balance is not ideal for them or their family.
  • 11% of respondents have refused a new job due to a lack of good work-life balance opportunities, while around 75% of respondents would carefully consider their childcare arrangements before taking a promotion or new job.
  • 44% of respondents feel that flexible working is a genuine work-life balance option for parents in their workplace; however, 34% of respondents have faked being ill in order to meet family obligations.
  • Around 47% of respondents believe that work affects their ability to spend time with their family, and 72% of respondents bring work home in the evenings or at weekends.
  • 34% of respondents feel resentful towards their employer with regards to work-life balance; this increases to 46% for male millennial respondents.
  • 53% of respondents cite work as the main cause for being burned out, compared to 12% who blame family life.
  • 41% of millennial respondents intend to downshift into a less stressful job to gain a better fit between work and family life. 36% plan to take a pay cut to work fewer hours.
  • 37% of respondents think employers should make efforts to change organisational culture to ensure a good work-life balance, 35% believe more policies that support work-life balance should be implemented and 28% feel that employers should encourage their staff to use existing policies to help their work-life balance.

Sarah Jackson OBE (pictured), chief executive at Working Families, said: “Parents, particularly millennial parents, are looking for human-sized jobs and supportive workplace cultures that genuinely allow them to combine work and family. Employers whose approach to organising work and underlying workplace culture hasn’t caught up with their family-friendly policies may find that, for parents, they aren’t an employer of choice.

“Tackling workplace culture, for so long the elephant in the room, is vital to future proofing businesses, unlocking working parents’ potential, tackling the gender pay gap and harnessing the business benefits of family-friendly and flexible working.”

Denise Priest, director of employer and strategic partnerships at Bright Horizons, added: “Without a supportive, family-friendly workplace culture, it is unlikely that policies and measures designed to support working carers will prove truly effective, however well-intentioned. By contrast, employers who create and nurture an environment where it is not only acceptable but expected for individuals to make their needs known and to take up support where it is offered, experience a true return on investment in terms of employee loyalty and performance.”