Why HR Will Need to Pay Attention to Employees Who are Also Parents

It’s hard enough to withstand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic without children. Working parents, more particularly moms, have been affected tremendously. In 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that 89.1 percent of 32.8 million parents have at least one parent employed. 

Throughout the pandemic, there has been an increased number of parents expressing their challenges in working while handling the responsibilities of parenthood. Based on Pew Research surveys, employed moms were more likely to report professional challenges compared to working fathers. 

The same institution discovered that this observation is consistent with other findings where mothers actually viewed themselves as the individual that is carrying more childcare responsibilities than their husbands.

These numbers highlight the need for talent managers such as global mobility and HR professionals to make use of these data to spark the changes that organizations need to initiate to tackle these issues.

HR Exchange Network elaborates its own findings and provides specific efforts that global mobility professionals and HR personnel can execute in response to these observations.

Observation #1: Working parents are burnt out

HR Exchange Network’s State of HR Report noted that burnout was the major consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was discovered in a study by The Ohio State University’s Office of the Chief Wellness Officer and the College of Nursing that an epidemic of working parental burnout is occurring.

The study reported that 66% of parents admitted feeling burned out. Moreover, this burnout was discovered to have strong correlations with anxiety and increased alcohol consumption that increases the chances for parents to engage in punitive parental practices. There’s a lot of pressure being a parent under the current circumstances.

So employers need to take the lead in mitigating the effects of the pandemic and current work challenges on working parents. It’s not likely COVID-19 is going away for good. This means employers will have to face the likelihood of parents joining the Great Resignation in search of better opportunities that better cater to their needs.

Response: Companies have expanded their employee benefits to cater to mental wellness needs. Others went the extra mile to provide virtual pediatric care and parental leaves for their employees who have children.

Observation #2: Employees who are mothers need extra attention

It’s already established that the pandemic has affected working mothers more negatively than their male counterparts. In fact, women took the lead in the contribution of employees leaving when the Great Resignation occurred. Perhaps, the sudden rise of the demand for remote work led to this business phenomenon.

True enough, in a study by Kuli Kuli, Sylvatex, and Uncommon Cacao (mom-backed organizations), almost 800 out of 1000 working mothers preferred working remotely. For working mothers, remote work allows them to have the convenience of checking in with their children in the comforts of home.

However, there are companies still pushing for back-to-office strategies. If companies turn a blind eye to these observations, they risk losing their employees who are parents, most especially working mothers.

Response: It’s the perfect time to listen and gather sufficient information before making general work policies that might negatively affect retention rates among working parents in a company’s workforce. HR personnel and global mobility professionals can make use of surveys, one-on-one interviews, focus group discussions, and open forums to shed light on pressing concerns they have on organization-wide plans.

Observation #3: Flexibility remains among workers’ priorities

There is nothing new about flexibility being one of the most in-demand offers that job seekers are looking out for in companies. It doesn’t only include working parents, but workers across all demographics desire some form of flexibility in their work.

Besides defining flexibility with work location, flexibility can refer to many things. It can be as simple as a manager allowing a working parent to set the time ahead for school pick-ups and drops or even permitting a parent to manage their time to go to a doctor’s appointment for their children’s vaccinations.

Response: Again, it’s important to listen to the needs of working parents to better understand what strategies people organizers can formulate. But it wouldn’t hurt to do prior research on common circumstances when parents need to take time off for parent duties.

Observation #4: Childcare should be addressed

If employers have thoughts of hiring and retaining working mothers, they have to understand that childcare is top on their list of priorities for them. A McKinsey survey found that 45% of mothers with children aged five and under who left their organization during the COVID-19 identified childcare as a significant factor.

McKinsey explains that losing women employees will result in loss of functional expertise, institutional knowledge, and mentorship. There is a lot at stake if employers refuse to look at the numbers. 

Childcare support is one of the non-traditional benefits employers can offer to increase acquisition and retention rates among working parents. 

Response: Employers can provide working parents with easy access to childcare and childcare resources. They can even provide financial aid in childcare services so employees can focus on work.

Recruiters aren’t out of the woods yet. Though the labor market is becoming more optimistic, talent recruiters need to identify the most pressing issues among vulnerable demographics in the workforce. Learn to listen to their concerns. It will definitely pay off.