A study that was designed to uncover the struggles and the impact lack of sleep has on parents returning to the workplace.
This study was run throughout May and June 2023 and is the result of 520 respondents and published in August 2023. You can read the full report here.
In summary, we need to understand the impact that lack of sleep is having on parents in the workplace and encourage employers to implement strategies to support parents through their child’s early years.
We know that 54,000 new mums leave the workforce every year in the UK, and this is not solely due to childcare costs, or that they choose to be a stay-at-home mum.
Becoming a parent doesn’t mean giving up on who they were before having a child, it is supposed to enrich lives, but unfortunately, we live in a society where we don’t yet see the additional value of supporting parents in the workplace.
Are Mums Dead Weight?
Mums especially are seen as a weight around a businesses neck.
Mums in most cases are the default parent so are needed to collect their child from nursery every time they spike a temperature, meaning they are off work for a minimum of 2 days. When a baby or child starts nursery or school, there is around 4 months of constant illness, and it is usually mums carrying this weight. No mum said ever that she was glad her child was sick so they could let their workload build up, let their company down and lose out on much needed pay.
When a mum is called out of work to look after their poorly child, the guilt felt for their colleagues / friends / clients is immense, and with this comes fear. You will see from the report how fear is playing a huge part in stopping parents asking for help.
Mums don’t leave work early for fun or take the sick day because they want to. It is because they have contributed to the existence of the next generation and have to raise and nurture this child.
Without the 700,000 babies born in the UK every single year, there is no future.
How Many Parents Are There In The UK?
1.4 million parents are made every single year in the UK alone in a population of 68 million.
According to populationdata.org 33% (22.1 million) of the population are between 20 and 44, which equates to 16% (1.4 million) of people in the UK between the ages of 20 and 44 becoming a parent each year.
I am going to give you another startling statistic that has come out of my research, a minimum of 868,000 (62%) of parents are not safe to do their job for at least 6 months after returning to work due to the lack of sleep.
This figure is much higher, but I have based it on the best-case scenario that a mum returns to work after 12 months and their baby starts to sleep well enough to function safely in work by 18 months old. You will see from the report that this is not a true reflection as there are still 308,00 (22%) of parents saying their child still wasn’t sleeping well enough to function safely in work past 3 years old.
Why Should You Employ Parents?
You might be wondering why you would want to employ parents after reading these figures, but parents bring with them an additional skill set when they return to work. Their ability to hear multiple conversations at once and respond to each one with the right answer is incredible. Their ability to negotiate in the toughest of situations and still please everyone is astounding. Their multi-tasking abilities are second to none.
You need parents in your workplace. They bring a skill set that can’t be learnt in a classroom or in a training session.
What they do need is your support.
It’s About Balance
If a parents family life is balanced and everyone is sleeping well, communicating well and spending quality time with each other meaning their needs are met at home, this transfers into their work life. They are more physically and mentally capable of doing the job they are employed to do and that they want to do.
A poorly supported parent in work takes the stress home, this filters into the family life increasing anxiety, lowering sleep and can have a detrimental effect on their mental and physical health.
A well supported parent in work can do the job in the time and manner that is expected, closes their laptop, and feels able to be with their family.
The children aren’t fighting for their parents’ attention which means less stress at home, improved sleep, and better mental and physical health.
You can see how the cycle continues, and if we get the cycle wrong, we risk losing some of the best employees due to burn out, overwhelm and sheer exhaustion.
What Is the Cost of Doing Nothing To Your Business?
Parents leaving their jobs isn’t good for them, and as a business, this isn’t good for you. The cost to recruit is averaging over £15,000 per head now, you also have the cost to staff morale, the experience lost and the amount of paperwork that has no doubt been incurred through the processes, and this is affecting your business.
How Can You Be an Employer That Top Talent Want to Work For?
By being a family friendly employer and supporting your working parents, you will retain quality employees who are both safe and capable to do their jobs, and in turn you will have their loyalty and respect. Once you have put these support policies in place, shout about them, because these policies are what will help you stand out over other businesses when top talent is looking for their next role.
Please take the time to read through the report, take some of the ideas mentioned to support your workforce and start to action them.