Only 25% of parents feel they have the right balance between work, family and income.
We were fortunate enough to attend the Modern Families Index launch earlier in the week, and there were some thought provoking insights, particularly for millennial parents, worth sharing.
What is The Modern Families Index?
The Modern Families Index is a comprehensive study of how working parents manage the balance between work and family life in the UK, and has been published since 2012 in association with Bright Horizons.
It’s a study that looks at the different aspects and pressures on family / work life today. The insights are widely shared, including with members of parliament – 3 of whom were also present on the day; David Lammy MP (Chair of the Fatherhood All Party Parliamentary Group), Jo Swinson MP (the Liberal Democrat MP who was at the forefront of introducing Shared Parental Leave), and Maria Miller MP (Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee).
2019 – the unmet demand for flexible working
The study surveyed 2570 working parents across the UK, with at least one dependent child aged 13 or younger who lives with them some of all of the time.
One of the main insights from the study was that 86% of parents want to work flexibly, but only 49% actually do.
There is a huge unmet demand for flexible working, but among the reasons for parents not taking it, 37% say it isn’t available where they work. For certain patterns of work, what we think of as “flexible working” can differ from place to place, but over 1/3 saying it isn’t available is a worrying stat. All this is particularly more worrying at a time where dads are facing more pressure at work, and want to do more at home.
- 72% of dads physically and emotionally worn out
- Getting the work/life balance right this year
- The Dad Index 2018
The flexibility ‘trap’ and declining wellbeing
Even those parents who do work flexibly, have fears of loosing it as their careers advance. ½ of the fathers surveyed said they feared changing roles in case they lose their current flexible working arrangements.
Beyond the fear of moving forward in careers, there was something more alarming. Millennial parents reported the poorest wellbeing (32% said their wellbeing was poor most or all of the time).
These are the same group of working parents who are also the most likely to find it difficult to switch off from work. In fact 2 in 5 said they found themselves thinking about work when they were spending time with their family.
At the current rate, will it be any surprise if a significant number Millennial parents are burned out before they’re in the prime of their careers?
What impact will that then have on organisations, and more importantly on the children of those families?
A little hope ahead – a new equality
3 in 10 parents in couple households share childcare equally according to the index. However, these were parents who were likely to be working full time. Both parents were likely to be higher earners than average too, and crucially they seemed to have a more supportive workplace.
How can we create those same opportunities for parents right across different sectors and regions?
Among the highlights of the session was the chance to hear from the MPs. We debated on the sort of change that is slowly coming to the fore of Parliaments thinking, and how the reports recommendations are informing them.
Amongst the key recommendations from the report were:
- An evaluation of Shared Parental Leave. Simple reforms such as – making it a day-one right for fathers, as maternity leave is, and the extending the scheme to self-employed parents.
- The creation of a properly paid, standalone period of extended paternity leave for fathers. Coupled with more widespread part-time and flexible working, this would mean more fathers could share care in their baby’s first year, and beyond.
- Strengthening the right to request flexible working – making it a day one right to support a cultural shift, especially for less senior staff.
How do you manage with your Work/Life Balance?