The juggle is a struggle for many working parents and their physical and mental health, along with their relationships, could be suffering as a result.
That’s according to the initial findings of the massive National Working Families Report, following a survey of more than 6000 parents and carers by Parents At Work, in partnership with Karitane.
Sixty two per cent of respondents said they have difficulties managing their own physical and mental health as they manage the juggle of work and caring, with around one-third saying it is contributing to stress and tension in their relationships with partners and children.
Around half of female parents and carers, and one third of men, reported that the juggle is leading to considerable stress.
The comprehensive snapshot of working parents highlights some risks ahead for employers, with one in four parents indicating the tension and difficulties they face balancing home and work life has led to an increased intention to leave their job in the next 12 months.
It also shows that despite significant progress on flexible work discussions and creating more family friendly workplaces, a significant social and cultural shift in normalising such practices for everyone is yet to occur.
Two thirds of the respondents agreed that it is more acceptable for women to use family-friendly work options than men, with men reporting more barriers on accessing such flexibility and raising concerns about how it would impact their career reputation.
Meanwhile, one in three mothers (34 per cent) reported missing out on opportunities for promotion due to taking paid parental leave, compared with 11 per cent of fathers.
And around a third of women again (35 per cent) reported missing out on promotion opportunities due to their use of flexible work, compared with 14 per cent of men.
So what can be done to help in easing tensions association with the juggle? Parents At Work CEO Emma Walsh said respondents listed their key ideas: “Top priorities included a need for more flexibility over when and where they worked, reduction in job pressure and overall workload and help with care services such as having access to child care at work, or being offered child care rebates from their employer,” she said.
“Individuals also reported wanting more role models or ‘champions’ that foster a family-friendly workplace culture as well as personal health and well-being and parenting education programs at work.”
Karitane CEO Grainne O’Loughlin noted some of the concerning stats regarding stress, fatigue and anxiety in parents.
“This report found half of all parents returning to work after parental leave report significant fatigue; a third are worried and anxious; and one in five report feeling depressed.
“We need to find ways to better support parents and families at this crucial time.”
Other key findings from the preliminary results include:
• Nearly half of all respondents (46 per cent) said that a worker’s commitment to their job was questioned if they used family-friendly work arrangements.
• Most parents (85 per cent) reported that paid parental leave was offered at their workplaces and around half of all mothers and fathers had accessed all or part of the parental leave benefit.
• But more than half of fathers (57 per cent) and one-third of mothers reported the leave was ‘too short’.
• Twenty-three per cent of mothers and 13 per cent of fathers reported receiving negative comments from managers and supervisors for using paid parental leave.