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Employers need to offer their people far, far more childcare support

Childcare and nannying startup myTamarin digs deep into the issues affecting working parents. 
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“The Zoom curtains fall and we have to admit it: we are broken.”

So says one surveyee from a recent study carried out by our partners myTamarin. They’re in the business of helping businesses meet their employees’ childcare needs, and so always have their fingers on the pulse of how parents are managing at home.

The report spoke with more than 100 senior executives (100% work remotely, 90% women) at household name brands like Nationwide, BP and BT. And the findings are damning — shocking, even. Here are the figures, quotes and takeaways that particularly caught my eye.

16% felt COVID had impacted their ability to work ‘completely’

We’ve all seen it on Zoom calls: a little one at the back of the screen. Some on the call my say ‘awww’ or wave hello. But for the parents on the other end of the line, having children at home has been a mixed blessing.

Yes, it’s allowed for more quality time. But the almost universal relief amongst parents when a roadmap for reopening schools was announced shows how difficult it’s been. “There is a mental health and burnout crisis just around the corner in 2021. In 2020, we survived on adrenalin” was how one parent summed it up. 

Lockdown 1 hit parents harder than lockdown 2

68% think lockdown 2 was marginally better than lockdown 1, which squares with the fact that this time parents weren’t facing closed nurseries and early years provisions. With the vaccine rollout in full swing, here’s hoping myTamarin aren’t conducting another survey in 2022 on lockdown 4.

All respondents said that flexibility helped

But none said it was the entire solution. At Juggle, we think flexible work can transform employees’ lives and propel a business’ prospects. But for working parents, childcare is a crucial part of the picture that can’t be ignored. 

myTamarin found that mothers, in particular, were likely to turn to flexible work, and in turn take a pay reduction. For flexible work’s potential to be fully unleashed — 61% of employees focus better working remotely — employers need to offer it in tandem with childcare benefits. Only then will women not have to scale back their careers more than men.

What next?

A large majority (73%) thought that the responsibility for improving support for working parents lies with both the government and employers. The piece went on to suggest tax reductions for employers who retain staff that need time to fulfil parental responsibilities and the prioritisation of childcare workers for the vaccine. 

Whatever the solution, far more needs to be done, and businesses should take inspiration from their people. As one respondent noted: “Working parents are so good at creating their own networks and support systems, employers should follow their lead.”

A good, actionable start would be the implementation of a package of flexible and childcare benefits for parents, and using myTamarin is the easiest way companies can do that.

 


 

For more insight from Juggle on how the pandemic has affected how we work, check out these findings from Tally on the who, when and why of heading back to the office.

Toby Douglas-Bate

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