A Great Realization: Parents Are Overworked and Leaving Jobs That Don’t Support Them

New research by Bright Horizons shows workplace benefits that support the family are just as important as increased compensation

The pandemic created a period of upheaval for working parents, but it has also provided a moment of introspection, enabling them to take stock of what matters most and driving a “Great Realization” to make dramatic career moves that align work with personal priorities. As a result, working parents are taking action to change the workplace.

According to the eighth-annual Modern Family Index (MFI), commissioned by Bright Horizons (NYSE:BFAM) and conducted by Material, almost two-thirds (60%) of working parents say the pandemic has made them realize their current work benefits are insufficient to both take care of their family and get their jobs done. They even go as far to say that a job that helps meet family and child care responsibilities is just as strong of a motivator to stay with their employer over the next 12 months as doubling their compensation (35% and 36% respectively).

Fatigued and Worn Down

Working parents can no longer pour from an empty cup. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of them feel fatigued and exhausted from managing their workload, lack of work-life balance, working longer days, or never being able to truly disconnect from work. For many working parents, the exhaustion feels like a never-ending loop, leaving them unable to focus on work due to family (23%) and unable to focus on family due to work (18%). The result is a chronic cycle of fatigue, an inability to see a way forward, and risk of burn out.

Ninety percent of working parents say they need support to meet their responsibilities at work and home. Yet only half say their employers have modified or added new policies (53%) and benefits (51%) to help them. Among these working parents, one-in-three feel their employers could have done a better job providing enough (33%) and the right kind of (34%) support, revealing an opportunity for employers to use this moment to pivot their benefits and be a source of support, rather than added stress.

“It’s clear that working parents are worn down by the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic and their ability to balance both work and home which has been especially challenging the last couple of years,” says Stephen Kramer, CEO of Bright Horizons. “But what we are seeing and hearing from employers is that they clearly see the connection between supporting their workforce and succeeding in the marketplace. They are committed to offering supports that work for their employees, including everything from on-site and back-up child care to, virtual tutoring and more.”

Prioritizing Benefits Where They Work

Working parents without consistent access to child care are nearly twice as likely to be unhappy at their current job compared to those with consistent access; they’re more likely to experience greater levels of stress (48% vs. 34%); and are most at risk for leaving their current jobs (48% vs. 32%). Additional findings from the Modern Family Index include:

  • Nine out of 10 (90%) working parents are stressed at their jobs, and three in five (61%) describe their stress as overwhelming.
  • The majority of front line workers, who don’t have the luxury of remote work, would stay in the current jobs for benefits like child care (60%), emergency child care (63%), and mental health coverage (68%).
  • Gen Z and Millennial parents are more likely than Gen X and Boomers to leave their jobs for better benefits (29% vs. 25%) and jobs that fit better with their family responsibilities (18% vs. 13%).

To download the full Eighth Annual Bright Horizons Modern Family Index report, click here.

About the Bright Horizons Modern Family Index

The Modern Family Index is an internet-based survey conducted by Material from January 20 to February 2, 2022. The sample consisted of 2,107 working parents aged 18+, with children under the age of 18 at home. The survey was conducted online and has a margin of error of +/- 2.1%.

About Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc.

Bright Horizons® is a leading global provider of high-quality early education and child care, back-up care, and workplace education services. For 35 years, we have partnered with employers to support workforces by providing services that help working families and employees thrive personally and professionally. Bright Horizons operates approximately 1,000 early education and child care centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and India, and serves more than 1,350 of the world’s leading employers. Bright Horizons’ early education and child care centers, back-up child and elder care, and workforce education programs help employees succeed at each life and career stage. For more information, go to www.brighthorizons.com.


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