Huge return-to-office gains for employers offering family supports, finds new report

Workplace solutions provider, Bright Horizons’ annual Work + Family Snapshot reveals how savvy employers are encouraging employees back into the workplace.

A survey of over 1,800 working parents who have access to Bright Horizons’ family support solutions through their employers, including sponsored nursery and back-up care, found:

  • 53% saw their hours at the office increase in the past year
  • 65% now report working more than half of their time in a central workplace
  • 76% of those with increased office working said they had upped their childcare as a result - with gender disparities (74% men vs 78% women)
  • 85% said employer-sponsored childcare helps them attend a place of work and 4 in 5 say the care enhances productivity
  • 9 in 10 say employer-sponsored childcare made it easier to return to work after the birth or adoption of a child

Crucially, the report revealed notable differences when compared side-by-side with working parents who don’t have access to family supports through their employer. Comparison with Bright Horizons’ previous survey of 3,000 random UK working parents, the 2024 Modern Families Index, showed those with access to employer-sponsored care rate their employer 20 percentage points more supportive of family.

Childcare is an established concern for working parents, and the same UK population study raised further alarm bells by revealing 42% are looking for new employment - with family support high on their wish list and affordability, accessibility and reliability of care all known challenges.

However, advice from Bright Horizons is to ensure care provision is inclusive, with evidence that elder care responsibilities and pet care are also taking a toll.

Jennifer Liston-Smith, Head of Thought Leadership at Bright Horizons comments: “As business focus scans across wellbeing to productivity, and the trend for more in-person collaboration continues, the smartest employers are ensuring they prioritise family care. Those employers that remove the barriers differentiate themselves in employee experience as well as productivity.

“Reassuringly, we can see that by providing employees with access to meaningful and inclusive family supports, all parties can enjoy the benefits of all ways of working, including being together face-to-face. Employees with access to family support report higher levels of productivity, enhanced performance and improved employee wellbeing, engagement and retention.

“This report shows the business case is clear and family-inclusive employers who partner with Bright Horizons are held in much higher regard by their employees than those of the wider population. Our clients are some of the UK’s most forward-thinking organisations when it comes to implementing truly inclusive policies.

“The world has changed, and employers must move to support their employees’ evolving needs if they want to continue to attract, recruit and retain talent.”

Download the full report here.