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Survey Report

Employers across industries boost efforts to meet workers’ childcare needs

Industry highlights – Supporting Employees With Young and School-Aged Children Survey

Future of Work|Health and Benefits|Talent|Total Rewards|Integrated Wellbeing
COVID 19 Coronavirus

November 10, 2020

Organizations are implementing policies to help alleviate stress on working caregivers. We examined actions employers are taking across industries.

Introduction

The pandemic has taken a toll on working parents who are under pressure to juggle the demands of their jobs and expanded childcare responsibilities. Our Supporting Employees With Young and School-Aged Children Survey, which fielded in the U.S. in September 2020, examines the support that employers across different industries offer to employee caregivers of young and school-aged children.

Findings reveal that financial services and health care are leading the way in prioritizing support for working parents and the range of services they are offering or have under consideration. Yet employers in these and other industries recognize gaps between the prioritization of support for working parents and program and policy solutions. 

Businesses in industries with a greater proportion of essential workers (e.g., manufacturing, retail, energy and utilities, health care) are less likely to say their programs and policies are effective. These industries may find implementing solutions while maintaining business operations more difficult given cost.

Despite some disconnects, we are seeing employers in several industries taking steps to better understand the childcare needs of their workers and implement solutions to meet those needs.

Highlights and trends


Opportunities for companies to do more to meet the needs of working parents
  • 74% of employers overall identify the support of employees with young and school-aged children as a priority for their organization. But only 39% believe that their programs and policies are effectively meeting the childcare needs of their employees.
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  • Companies in health care and financial services lead the way in supporting working parents with 82% of companies in these industries prioritizing support of employees with childcare needs; however, only 41% of organizations in health care and 51% in financial services say their programs and policies are effective.
  • Gaps between the prioritization of support for working parents and actual program effectiveness were also found in companies in the public sector and education (79% vs. 55%) and IT and telecom (78% vs. 47%) industries.
  • Our survey uncovered the biggest gaps and consequently the biggest opportunities to improve for companies in the energy and utilities (68% vs. 32%) and manufacturing (63% vs. 26%) industries.

Rising stress and mental health related claims
  • Nearly four-fifths of employers report rising stress (79%) and over half report higher mental health-related claims (55%) to a moderate to very great extent because of increased caregiving responsibilities.
  • Over four-fifths of companies in the IT and telecom (88%), financial services (84%), wholesale and retail (81%), and health care (85%) industries report rising stress to a moderate to very great extent as parents juggle work and childcare responsibilities.
  • Over half of all organizations across industries indicate they have increasing mental health-related claims to a moderate to very great extent due to increased caregiving responsibilities, with the highest percentages reported in the health care (70%), IT and telecom (56%), general services (54%), and financial services (59%) industries.

Resources and support services

Employers across industries are either offering or planning to offer a number of childcare resources.

  • Backup childcare (access to networks): Over two-fifths of companies in health care (45%), IT and telecom (46%), public sector and education (50%), and financial services (51%)
  • Backup childcare days (subsidized): Over a quarter of companies in general services (28%), health care (29%), public sector and education (36%), IT and telecom (40%), and financial services (41%)
  • Concierge services to address a broad set of needs: At least a quarter of companies in IT and telecom (25%), wholesale and retail (27%), health care (29%) and financial services (36%)
  • Discounts or subsidies for childcare centers, tutoring or other educational resources: Two-fifths or more of companies in health care (40%), public sector and education (43%), and financial services (46%)

Leave

Most employers across industries offer paid time off/vacation days and flexible working hours to support employees who are unable to fully perform their job due to caregiving responsibilities. In addition, some offer different types of leave benefits:

  • Unpaid caregiver leave and other unpaid leave: Over two-fifths of companies across all industries
  • Paid caregiver leave: Over 30% of companies in public sector (33%), IT and telecom (34%), and financial services (39%)
  • Additional paid sick leave: Over a third of companies in IT and telecom (34%), energy and utilities (35%), and financial services (41%)

Three sectors taking more action around pay and benefits
  • While few employers have made changes to pay and benefits, nearly half are looking to add to or change overall benefit offerings in part prompted by the pandemic and the urgency around providing support and flexibility for employees with caregiving responsibilities. The industries with the highest percentage of organizations that have already taken action in this area or are planning to do so include financial services (35%), IT and telecom (29%), and health care (25%).

Using employee insights
  • Data analysis: Half of employers (50%) analyze employee data (or plan to) in order to estimate the number of employees with school-aged children. Industries with the highest percentage of employers who currently analyze employee data for this purpose or are planning to do so include financial services and health care (56%), energy and utilities (55%), manufacturing (50%) and public sector (50%).
  • Employee surveys: 43% of all employers already conduct surveys (or plan to) in order to better understand the caregiving needs of their employees. The highest percentage of employers across industries that conduct or are planning to conduct such surveys are found in financial services (56%), health care (52%), general services (43%), and IT and telecom (43%).

Growing workforce challenges
  • Sustaining productivity: 40% of employers say they are having difficulty sustaining productivity to a moderate to very great extent. Two-fifth (40%) say this challenge is at least moderately tied to increased caregiving responsibilities. This is the case for over 30% of employers across all industries with the highest percentages reported in health care (47%), wholesale and retail (44%), and public sector and education (42%).
  • Remote worker engagement: 47% of organizations are having difficulty sustaining remote worker engagement to a moderate to very great extent. Two-fifth (40%) indicate that this challenge is at least moderately due to increased caregiving responsibilities.
  • A majority of employers ─ including 48% of organizations in IT and telecom, 45% of those in health care, and 43% of those in general services ─ also face this workforce challenge because of increased caregiving responsibilities.


Workforce arrangements
  • Over two-thirds of employers (67%) have determined what work can be done remotely with another 17% planning to take action in this area.
  • A significant majority of employers across industries have either taken action to determine what work can be done remotely or are planning to do so with the highest percentages reported in financial services (94%), public sector and education (93%), and health care (87%).

  • Over half of employers (51%) have either developed or updated their flexible work policies and another 24% are planning to do so.
  • Over two-thirds of employers across industries either have taken action or are planning to take action in this area, with organizations in financial services (86%), energy and utilities (80%), and health care (78%) leading the way.


About the survey respondents

Research findings are based on responses from 553 organizations in the United States employing 8.7 million employees. The survey fielded between September 9 and 11, 2020.

Respondent profile:

  • 51% for profit, publicly traded
  • 29% for profit, private
  • 19% nonprofit/government

Industry

This image shows the respondent by industry: 8% energy and utilities, 14% financial services, 12% general services, 17% health care, 12% IT and telecom, 21% manufacturing, 5% public sector and education, 9% wholesale and retail
Respondents by industry


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