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Bright Horizons Modern Families Index Report 2022

Huge numbers of working parents looking to move jobs in 2022, even when satisfied with current employers, landmark survey reveals

  • Four in 10 working parents (38%) plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to annual Modern Families Index
  • This is not limited to dissatisfied employees - 49% of those saying that they’re highly satisfied also say they will be looking for new work in the coming year
  • Three quarters of respondents carefully consider their childcare and eldercare responsibilities before accepting a new job or promotion
  • Nearly four-fifths express a desire for more flexible hours (whether front-line or knowledge workers)
  • As a result of the pandemic, more than half of working parents worry their child’s mental health, education and social skills have suffered
  • Poll overwhelmingly suggests parents are looking to employers for better support and more understanding

London, 7 February, 2022: Employers are facing a battle to retain staff, with the latest figures from the 2022 Modern Families Index Spotlight showing that almost four in 10 working parents (38%) plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months.

And while it won’t be a surprise that 89% of those who say that they’re “completely stressed” will be looking for a new job, 62% of people who rate themselves as having good work-life balance are also on the lookout for a move, which should set off alarm bells for employers. Even 49% of those saying that they’re highly satisfied with life overall at the moment will be looking for new work in the next year.

While much has been written on the “Great Resignation”, responses to the Index show that this may be more of a “Great Reset and Rethink”. Rather than employees only looking to move away from jobs they find unpleasant, many seem to be moving towards roles that fit with a more enjoyable work-life balance they’ve discovered in the pandemic era. This is especially the case at companies which do not seem committed to providing support for family life in the longer term.

The data suggests employers should be concerned about flight risk from all types of employees. Almost three quarters (74%) of people caring for elderly relatives are actively seeking a new job, as are 66% of those who say their employer is unsympathetic to childcare needs. And with 59% of senior managers looking elsewhere, organisations are at risk of losing some of their most knowledgeable and experienced staff.

The Index has been published annually by Bright Horizons, the employer solutions, back-up care and nursery provider, since 2012. The survey, carried out through an independent agency, was completed by over 1,000 randomly sampled working parents from across the UK to establish their concerns around their employers, families and the future.

Working arrangements are key and the office is back in fashion

The most prominent survey insight with regard to flexible working is that flexible hours outranks flexible location on the “wish-list” for most staff. Nearly four-fifths (79%), whether front-line workers or knowledge workers, express a desire for more flexible hours.

For those whose roles clearly suit remote work, there is an emerging preference for a blend between office and home working. Nearly half of parents polled (49%) want a “hybrid” blend of the two, with the preferred balance tilting towards more days working from the office than from home.

The siren call of the physical workplace is alluring for some, with 22% of respondents now saying they’d like to work exclusively from the office – up by more than a third on last year’s figure. This is slightly more than would prefer to work from home all of the time, which is 18%.

Of course, many people’s jobs cannot be done from remote locations, but for those who can, the message is clear for employers: huge numbers of staff want blended working styles to continue. They value the office yet also desire flexibility in hours and place of work where possible. Working with employees to establish the right combination for them, and providing them with the right facilities and support to work productively, will help stop losing staff needlessly.

Concern is high for children’s wellbeing

Parents are worried about the impact the pandemic has had on their children. Parents of children aged between 7-10 years are the most concerned, with 62% worried about their child’s mental health and 57% worried about their educational catch-up needs. This compares with 54% of parents overall who worry about their child’s mental health and 55% who feel their child has fallen behind educationally. Fifty-two per cent of parents are also concerned about their child’s social skills having suffered.

Parents have coped admirably with the pressures imposed by home schooling. And while the risk of classes moving online again is ever present with each new virus variant, parents most of all want their children to catch up on things they’ve missed out on, both educationally and socially.

Employers who can help their staff to achieve this by offering access to practical care and education services and support will help to build staff loyalty. They will also alleviate some of the pressure staff may be feeling as they seek to juggle many demands on their time.

How employers can make a difference

Three quarters of respondents carefully consider their childcare and eldercare responsibilities before accepting a new job or promotion. Some groups placed an even higher emphasis on this: 91% of those with eldercare responsibilities consider support with care an important factor in any new employer, as do 76% of parents with children aged 0-10 years.

With such thoughts top of mind for three in four new hires, employers would be wise to have supports in place that help employees manage their caring responsibilities. And once these supports are in place it’s important to communicate them to potential new hires as it can help an organisation stand out in a competitive talent marketplace. Learnings from the pandemic include the fact that the juggling of care across life stages, whether child, elder or both simultaneously, is complex and easily disrupted. Employer-sponsored care is a practical and visible support option which can take some of the pressure off employees.

Encouragingly, two fifths (40%) of respondents feel their employer is “sympathetic to childcare responsibilities and allows them to work flexibly or offers support to help them manage childcare”, which is the same as 2021’s Index. A further quarter (25%) find that their employer is “understanding, but only up to a point and does not offer any practical help with childcare”.

Over a third (35%) of working parents said their employer is not at all sympathetic, and of these, 39% rated their current stress levels at 8-10 (compared with 26% of overall participants).

Denise Priest, Director of Employer Partnerships at Bright Horizons, said:

“This research overwhelmingly demonstrates that the world of work has changed and employers who don’t realise that risk losing their best workers. For many, the ‘Great Reset and Rethink’ is already underway, with many employees saying that they will be looking for a new role in the next 12 months.

“Working parents have indicated in this research that life is becoming more stressful, not less. Most parents have concerns about their children’s educational catch up and mental health. Many workers, including young people, are weighed down by eldercare responsibilities.

“There is an opportunity here for employers to help reduce some of the emotional load for their working parents. Forward-thinking employers are providing access to tutoring programmes to support their employees’ children, or flexible childcare solutions whether at work or near home, or help in sourcing eldercare. They can also nurture internal networks in which parents and carers can exchange mutual support and advice.

“As we adjust to life post-pandemic, it’s clear that many groups need care assistance. Supporting them will help protect the talent pipeline and increase a company’s appeal to those considering changing jobs.”

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