The recent closure of over 100 schools due to the dangers of RAAC, just as schools were about to re-open after the summer holidays, puts the spotlight on every working parent's constant fear: that at some point an emergency or crisis of some kind, something big (school closures), or something very small (a red spot appearing that just might be chicken pox) will trigger a need to find childcare support in a hurry.
According to a 2018 report by Forbes magazine, 45% of working parents had to be absent from work due to childcare breakdowns. That amounted to a total of between three and four days lost every six months.
Though these are figures from the USA, there is no reason to doubt that a similar survey in the UK would tell a very similar story.
No working parent (and I speak as the mum of three) ever wants to drop everything, abandon a meeting or cancel a much anticipated appointment because their childcare arrangements have let them down.
Yet it happens: and however important my career is my kids, of course, come first. Here in the UK only 11% of employers provide any kind of childcare benefits, according to Pregnant Then Screwed.
This is despite its research finding 81% of employees said childcare benefits would be a key factor in considering a new role.
A tangible benefit with a real ROI impact
But childcare is not just a benefit in terms of attracting and retaining talent.
There are direct commercial benefits for the employer, too. For example, at Bubble we know that for every £1 our partners invest in childcare they return up to £3.80 in productivity alone.
But childcare support offers lots more than just productivity gains. Given that the burden of childcare so often falls on women, the benefit of childcare gives you a real edge when it comes to retaining female talent.
According to the Centre for Progressive Talent, 15% of women have quit their jobs altogether due to the unequal struggle to find childcare. A further 30% are forced to significantly reduce their hours.
Given that women who have just had a baby can miss out on an almost £70,000 reduction in their salary over the next decade, providing childcare support can reduce your gender pay gap by empowering women to stay in the jobs they love.
It’s not just these tangible savings either.
Lifting the worry from the shoulders of so many brings massive benefits in terms of promoting wellbeing.
Working parents make up three in every seven of the workforce, so we’re talking about a considerable proportion of your employee base.
Furthermore, Millennials and Generation Z are now reaching the age when parenthood is the next step. Their expectations are far more likely to lead them to focus on employers who have a culture which is pro-family with a resultant focus on family friendly benefits.
Attract and retain
The statistic I find particularly frustrating is the lack of progress when it comes to workplace gender equality.
ONS stats from last year revealed the number of women leaving work due to caring commitments is increasing at an alarming rate because it's getting harder to be a working mum.
At the current rate of progress, we are over 100 years away from closing the gender pay gap.
Providing back-up care is a practical way of helping you reach your DEI targets.
As we’ve said, no mother or father wants to feel constantly at the mercy of fragile childcare arrangements.
The resultant stress is just as damaging to any parents’ performance as the days they have had to take off to deal with the crisis. We know that burn-out among parents is at an all-time high.
By providing access to back up, an employer cannot just alleviate that stress, but send a powerful signal that they care, and that their culture is one which not only understands the way families work.
Employers can also now embrace them through a culture which is fully supportive and there for them when they need it.
From attracting new talent to giving your existing talent the full support they need to continue to thrive, providing childcare support is a significant benefit which pays for itself in terms of productivity and wellbeing.
Those unwilling to adapt to these changing times will lose talent and find it harder to attract the diverse range of people they need.
But given that seven in 10 agree the ability to provide for their family motivates them beyond money or any other factor, you’re adding a reward which offers vital returns for you and your workforce both in the short and longer term.
Sarah Hesz, chief commercial officer, Bubble
To find out more about the benefits of childcare support, download our whitepaper, Back up Care: A Benefit that Pays for Itself.