Almost a third of British parents miss bedtime with their kids at least three out of five nights per week due to long working hours, a study has found.
The research, conducted by job site Indeed, surveyed 1,000 working parents, revealed that 72% of employees rely on grandparents or partners to read a bedtime story to their kids each night, whilst 22% resort to FaceTime because they can’t be there in person.
The research pointed to presenteeism as a core disruptor to family time, with 25% of workers feeling obliged to stay at work longer than necessary.
And this presenteeism has a distinctly negative effect on the home lives of 53% of parents, particularly with 17% feeling stressed when they get home late from work.
Bill Richards, UK Managing Director at Indeed, commented: “After family and health, we know a job is one of the most important parts of our adult lives, and having children can change our priorities for what we want from our career. We can see from our own data that there has been a fundamental behavioural switch in modern working: beyond pay, most workers optimise for happiness.”
Additionally, it seems that the bedtime battle has led 48% of parents to consider a career change in an effort to find more flexible hours.
Sonia Wolsey-Cooper, AXA PPP healthcare’s Membership Director explained: “Striking a balance between work and home life can be challenging at the best of times and that’s without the inconvenience – and sometimes havoc – caused by life’s inevitable interruptions.”
Worrying about missing family time is often a concern for working parents, so what can HR do?
Increase paid paternity leave
Encouraging both parents to take some time off to look after their newborn is important. Last month, the news broke that telecommunications firm O2 increased their paid paternity leave offering to 14 weeks for permanent employees. This new policy steers away from the traditional two-week paternity offering that many employees are currently offered.
O2’s Chief HR Officer, Ann Pickering, told HR Grapevine: “It was a simple decision for us to move away from a traditional two-week paternity policy and give all new parents the opportunity to spend quality time with their family - this is part and parcel of modern-day parenting.”
Offer flexible working
Operating a flexible working policy will ensure that parents are able to do the school run when necessary. However, some firms are more flexible than others. One Australian-based company is paving the way with a new initiative that allows employees to take between six and 12 weeks of ‘life leave’. For working parents with young families, this can be a brilliant way of spending quality time together, as well as attracting candidates to a company in the first place.
EY Oceania’s People Partner Kate Hillman commented: “Flexible work policies like this are necessary because of increased competition for talent. We’re innovating so we don’t lose these people while they pursue passions outside of work.”