(BPT) - More American families than ever before have two parents working, but recent studies show many employers haven’t adapted to this change in the workforce demographics. Working parents feel burnt out and unloved at work, making them less creative, less productive and more likely to quit because of work-related stress, according to the 2015 Bright Horizons Modern Family Index.
Employers can do their part to create a culture that supports working parents and reduces the risks of valuable employees quitting or experiencing burn out. Managers should watch for signs of employee burnout and provide opportunities for working parents to voice their concerns. The Modern Family Index, which surveyed working parents across the country and in different industries, found:
* Sixty-two percent of working parents don’t believe their employers care about them. They also say employers are inattentive to the needs of working parents (64 percent) and don’t have their best interests at heart (76 percent).
* Just 34 percent of managers are concerned working parents struggle to balance work and life demands, while just 30 percent worry about whether working parents feel their company doesn’t care about them.
* Although nearly all parents say they experience burnout, 70 percent don’t speak up about it. Meanwhile, 60 percent of managers say working parent burnout can be avoided. The same percentage of parents say their manager wouldn’t even realize when parents experience burnout.
* Seventy-nine percent of working parents and 77 percent of managers say to curb burnout, changes need to occur in the office, not at home. The first step is for parents to begin voicing their concerns.
“Many of the parents we surveyed expressed frustration with their employers and indicated they feel their companies don’t really understand or care about the stresses they face,” says David Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons, a provider of employer-sponsored child care and other work/life solutions. “All employers must consistently look for new ways to ensure the culture they are cultivating is one that resonates with and is valued by their employees. The labor market is tightening. Jobs are expected to outnumber workers by 5 million by 2020, and competition for top talent will continue to intensify.”
However, the survey indicates the blame does not fall squarely on employers. Both employers and parents need to do better to adapt to the new realities of modern families. “Good communication between employers and working parents will benefit both groups,” Lissy added.
Working parents can take several steps to improve their work/life struggles. Kim Callaway from Horizons Workforce Consulting agrees that the first step is communication. Parents should talk to their managers. Often, managers are unaware if an employee is struggling to balance work and home demands. Talking to a manager means you can work together to find a solution. “Don’t just point out a problem,” she says. “Be prepared to suggest a viable solution. You can also take advantage of the annual employee opinion survey most employers conduct and share your concerns in an anonymous forum.”
In addition to speaking up, parents can also take other steps toward a more satisfying work-life balance.
* Learn more about your employee benefits. You may be unaware of some, such as back-up child care or a telecommuting policy that can help.
* Be realistic and honest about your work and personal goals. When both you and your employer understand your goals, you can work together to achieve them.
* Take a vacation. Employees who take less than 25 percent of their earned vacation are more likely to feel burnout, according to a recent study by Horizons Workforce Consulting.
* Rest is vital to your overall well-being, and a lack of sleep negatively affects satisfaction with life, health, work and financial success. The Horizons Workforce Consulting study also found 60 percent of working adults don’t get enough sleep each night.
* Managers should watch for signs of employee burnout and provide opportunities for working parents to voice their concerns. Regular meetings about work-life issues can help generate ideas for solutions and give employees a better sense of community.
“People want to work for employers who understand and support their needs,” Lissy says. “This year’s study shows communication among employees, managers and company leadership needs to improve. When working parents express their needs and employers listen and respond, the whole organization benefits.”
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