Raising children is an extremely demanding job, especially for working parents who have to manage their professional lives simultaneously. It forces them to alter their work lives to suit the needs of the child. And this invariably leads to job loss in many cases, which in turn affects business organizations.
Child rearing is a serious business concern.
All conscious organizations foresee this not with a limited goal of managing attrition but to ensure the growth future of the workplace and indirectly the entire human community.
Concerns pertaining to children and families are a major source of stress for employees and leaders across all verticals and hierarchies.
Interestingly, this is not gender specific, child rearing impacts both parents. It drains their energies and occupies a large portion of their brain capacity, particularly those in their early 40s who may be balancing career progression with never ending parenting challenges.
These concerns can range from finding the right childcare and educational resources to financial planning for the future to worrying 24×7 about internet addiction and mental health issues.
The helplessness of teenagers’ parents reflects in the coffee & corridor talks. There seems no respite. Each passing day is a challenge for many households.
The on-going mental well being challenges in teenagers, early exposures to substance, pornography, normalizing intimate relationship, anger issues, anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies, day-to-day mood swings, lack of focus, indecisiveness about career choices and what not.
Some single parents struggle more for balancing dual responsibilities of being main bread-winner and homemaker.
The parents with specially abled children struggle emotionally 24×7.
According to a survey of working parents conducted by Econofact, nearly 20% of the parents had to either leave work during the pandemic or reduce their work hours significantly due to a lack of childcare. Moreover, out of the study group, only 30% had some form of backup childcare, and even in that, there was a significant disparity between the low and high-income households.
One of the main challenges that exist for these employees is the need to find some hope rather than finding equilibrium between their professional and personal responsibilities, which can be difficult when the demands of parenting are constantly present in their minds.
Empathetic and conscious organizations are predicting and foreseeing the need for wholesome solutions for relieving stress and building a conducive environment for its employees & leaders.
Inclusion of a diverse population to enhance the work ecosystem is a priority.
Therefore, business organizations that are able to provide high-quality child care benefits to their employees, not only differentiate themselves from the competition but also create a working environment that fosters loyalty and retention. In the majority of cases involving working parents, high-quality childcare is most often the sole differentiating criterion for them to choose and “stick” with their workplace. There is a significant number of working professionals having differently abled children. The cost of childcare with special needs is high and emotionally exhausting for entire families.
All conscious organizations should prioritize these issues to tackle attrition as employees are less likely to move to a new job if it also means moving their childcare from an environment they love and trust. This is high time for businesses to think creatively about ways to build childcare infrastructure and support right from infant care to college-going children to reduce the stress of potential leaders of the future. Such changes will not just benefit employees in the shorter run but also the economy as a whole. Interestingly, some of progressive organizations nowadays offer childcare services to their employees, however, it’s not part of the work ecosystem yet.
The pressure to succeed and make the right choices for their children can also create feelings of confusion, guilt, and helplessness in working parents. Therefore, to support such employees in managing these challenges, organizations should work towards providing a range of resources and support. For example, medical benefits and insurance coverage can help alleviate some of the financial burdens of caring for children, while parenting coaching and educational consulting can provide guidance and support in making decisions about childcare and education. Moreover, providing access to experts in various fields can also be helpful in navigating the demands of parenting while pursuing a career.
Opting for psychoeducation programs for children/teenagers, for career guidance from educational consultants, dedicated helplines for children are some of holistic solutions beyond vanilla employee assistant programs.
The future of the workplace is going to be more inclusive, community and environmental centric. Interestingly these goals are not separate and must be weaved together. Empowering working parents by establishing a holistic ecosystem shall be the easiest path towards sustainability.
(The author is Ms. Seema Rekha, Managing Director, Antarmanh and the views expressed in this article are her own)