When Workforce Schedule & Parenthood Collide: The 14 Week Dilemma

With summer vacations winding down and the school year beginning, working parents of school-age children are breathing a sigh of (temporary) relief. The exhausting – and often expensive – time required to piece together 8-10 weeks of summer childcare is finally coming to an end.

But, for the more than 60% of U.S. households containing two working parents, the beginning of school year doesn’t mean their childcare needs vanish. On average, the school year spans about 36 weeks of a 52-week year.  With the average employee receiving only about ten days (two weeks) of paid vacation time per year, this leaves 14 weeks a year when parents have no vacation time and kids aren’t in school, putting the traditional U.S. workforce schedule in direct conflict with… Parenthood.

The result? For families, it’s stress. The research and logistics required to find and secure quality school break programs for more than three months each year is draining and distracting.

For employers the number of lost hours due to school breaks result in lost productivity of $20 billion/year. The biggest impact may possibly be on service-related businesses, such as the legal, medical, healthcare and financial services fields, where employers put a heavier emphasis on a consistent commitment and, subsequently, more stress on absenteeism due to childcare needs.

The 14-week gap in childcare for elementary age children is overlooked by many employers. When school begins for children around age 6, there is little to any benefit support from employers to the millions of working parents trying to juggle their careers with the needs of their families.

Both sides are losing: Working parents are stressed and distracted. Employers are losing productivity and overall employee satisfaction.

The 14-week gap in childcare for elementary age children presents a significant opportunity for companies looking to demonstrate their commitment to their employees and families.

Many top employers striving to be a Best Place to Work know childcare benefits are considered a valuable offering for employees.  They are committed to helping their employees create and live thriving lives – both at work and at home – offer benefits that do more than cover the basics. Corporations that facilitate childcare programs during school breaks recognize that working parents need resources well-beyond infancy. By providing programs that streamline planning and reduce costs, employers increase productivity by ensuring their employee’s are available, focused and happy, retain top employees and minimize the attrition that often occurs during the middle years of parenthood, and differentiate themselves in the hiring process.

What is your company doing to support working parents? Get in touch and learn more.