Work-life balance management causes stress for 75% of working parents

work-life balance management

Three-quarters (75%) of working parents suffer stress and anxiety as a result of their work-life balance management, according to a study by HR software provider CIPHR.

The survey of 1,400 parents in work, published on 26 September 2018, also found that 53% of respondents feel judged by managers and colleagues for trying to balance their work and family commitments, with this proportion rising to 59% of parents with two children.

However, three in five (61%) working parents said they thought their employer did a good job at supporting them, and over half (55%) had a flexible working arrangement in place. Workers with only one child were the most likely to have a formal agreement for flexible work (62%).

Two-fifths (40%) of respondents said they felt female managers were more understanding and supportive of their needs, with just 10% saying men were most sympathetic.

Claire Williams, head of people at CIPHR, said: “While this study confirms that the majority of employers are doing a good job of helping their staff balance their professional and family lives, there is still significant room for improvement. There also seems to be an uncomfortably wide gender gap between perceived supportive managers, which is concerning.”

Two-thirds (66%) of respondents to the survey admitted they felt that senior colleagues with greater childcare resources of their own are less understanding about flexible working and parenting issues.

Almost half (49%) of respondents were concerned that being a working parent was hindering their career prospects. For parents with two or three children, the proportion rose to 52% and 55% respectively.

The biggest causes of difficulties in managing work-life balance for the working parents surveyed were child sickness and school holidays.

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Williams said: “It’s clear from this study there is a greater need for understanding and acceptance of the issues staff with young families face, especially by colleagues and managers who do not face these problems themselves.

“Often when a child is sick there is an exclusion period from their regular childcare or school. School holidays simply add to the juggling act. These additional pressures create a level of anxiety and perception of being judged for issues that are simply out of anyone’s control. Flexible working is obviously key to many successful employee and employer relationships, but perhaps the issue of presenteeism needs to be addressed for working parents, too.”