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Parenthood during the coronavirus pandemic

Parenthood during the pandemic has been a polarising experience. Juggling work alongside household pressures has seen a decline in mental health, with parents now the most likely to prioritise work-life balance in future roles.

Whilst they’ve seen an overall wellbeing decline in recent months, they’re also the most likely to have seen physical health improvements.

Our Divided Together report asked 1,500 people how the outbreak has impacted their wellbeing and how they’re feeling at work. Want all the facts at a glance? Take a look at our employee insight factsheets.

The experience of pandemic parenthood

With schools closed, half of parents have said they’ve had to balance childcare alongside their usual workloads.

Our research also shows that parents are more likely to have stopped video calling since the lockdown (21%) in comparison with other groups.

This has caused tensions between teams, with 52% of parents saying they’re jealous of others’ home-working environments.

For employers, it’s important to be adaptable to individual circumstances both now and as workplaces reopen, reducing contention between teams and in turn driving productivity.

Concerns around job security

With the UK facing economic strain in the coming months, parents are the most likely to be anxious about job security.

Many are worried about losing their job (53%), increasing to 68% amongst furloughed parents.

Rising uncertainty means higher expectations from employers, with 35% of parents expecting more reassurance and 29% thinking they should be doing more to protect job security.

Your internal communications should play a vital role in alleviating anxiety amongst workers, so try to ensure you’re emphasising the actions you’re taking to protect jobs during these uncertain times.

Polarising mental health experiences

When it comes to mental health, there has been a divide in experiences amongst parents.

Parents came in higher than average when it comes to improved mental health during lockdown. Yet 55% have said they’ve seen a decline in mental health, with 15% reporting it’s got a lot worse.

Unsurprisingly, with the pressures of managing work and family life and our welfare at risk, 27% of parents say they’re finding it difficult to concentrate at the moment.

The biggest sources of stress have been missing their usual routine (43%) and having financial concerns (35%).

Consider whether your internal wellbeing strategy provides sufficient mental health support to your workforce. Poor mental health increases absenteeism costs, so the right support will save you money in the long run.

Improved physical health

Whilst parents have seen an overall decline in mental health, they’re the group most likely to say their physical health has improved, with 38% saying it’s because they’re feeling more relaxed.

Although fitness centres are shut, parents have reported the main reason for improved physical health is they’re exercising more (69%).

With limited access to eating out, 41% have also seen an improvement from more home cooking and 24% said it’s because they’re going out less.

Better work-life balance

Spending more time at home has meant parents are the most likely to look for a better work-life balance in the future, with 30% saying they’ll choose roles with this at the forefront.

They’re also the most likely to want to try different types of work (18%) in comparison with other groups.

Consider how you can support parents with the same flexibility in the future to reduce the risk of burnout and support retention across your business.

Returning to normality

Despite the increased pressures of balancing work and childcare, a significant 74% of parents are keen to get back to normal.

The biggest reasons for wanting to go back have been due to missing a sense of normality (46%), and returning to a good work-life balance (39%). They’re also looking forward to more time out of the house (32%).

With rising financial concerns, parents believe the return to work will be more financially beneficial (31%).

Safeguarding employee health

Whilst many parents are keen to return to normality, the anxieties around safeguarding their health are substantial.

Parents are the second highest group to feel it’s unsafe for them to return to work from a health perspective (67%), being concerned about how they’ll carry out their duties with social distancing in place (58%).

Catching the virus has been a high concern (46%), with 32% worried about spreading it.

To lessen concerns, ensure visibility to employees over what practices you’ll be deploying to provide a safe return to work.

Employer expectations

As we look to the future of flexible working for our employees, the role of HR teams is more important than ever, with parents now expecting long-term changes to the way they work in the ‘new normal’ (35%).

With increased uncertainty around job security, they’re also the highest group to expect financial management education or support from their employer (21%).

Considering the support your employees will need with a robust return to work strategy will be paramount to maintaining employee wellbeing as workplaces open, ensuring your approach integrates financial wellbeing, mental and physical health support.

We’ve created some articles on what HR teams should be thinking about when it comes to returning to work and transitioning back to the workplace for more support.

For more insight about how teams have been affected by coronavirus, take a look at the Divided Together report or download our employee insight factsheets.

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