Supporting employees this National Work Life Week

  • For parents, there is nothing worse than when your child falls ill or is injured.
  • Yet, just a third (31%) of parents feel their employer is understanding and flexible if their child(ren) are poorly and they need to take time off.
  • Just 2% turn to their employer/boss for advice when they are worried for their child.

National Work Life Week is taking place between the 2nd and 6th of October and it’s Working Families’ annual campaign to get both employees and employers talking about wellbeing at work and work-life balance.

Work and life can be difficult to balance, particularly for parents. In fact, new research from MetLife UK, found that just a third (31%) of parents feel their employer is very understanding and flexible if time off is needed, or if hours need to be adjusted, when their child(ren) is unwell.

As such, only 4% of parents will turn to their work colleagues for advice when they are feeling worried about their child.

For parents, life moments are constantly happening from career choices, to having children through to health issues – the list is endless. And with so many events taking place in our lives, trying to juggle those alongside working can be stressful and have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. Then when you have the unexpected – such as your child being poorly or having an accident – thrown into the mix it can make an already stressful situation even more challenging.

Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK shares his top tips on how employers can master the work-life balance for parents this National Work Life Week:

1. Check in with employees:

Working parents are already under immense pressure so where we can, we need to support them to help alleviate some of their worries, which will not only help improve their health and wellbeing, but also boost their productivity. Life can be stressful, particularly if you’re a parent. When your child is poorly or has an accident it’s already a worrying time. But when you throw into the equation needing to take the time off to care for them, whilst juggling work, how your employer/team will manage, and layered with the financial impact – it can make an already tough situation much more stressful.

Talking to colleagues can go a long way to reliving some of the stress and worries they might be feeling. Not wanting to let the workplace down, whilst juggling multiple life moments can be a challenge. Offering to talk, and being understanding about some of those strains can help colleagues feel more secure in their role and boost their mental wellbeing.

2. Enhancing hybrid working to supporting families:

Since the pandemic, companies globally have had to adjust working patterns for employers to support a more hybrid approach. As this experimentation and period of adjustment continues, employees today have changing expectations of the relationship between life and work.

Our new research found that one in ten (10%) of parents say hybrid working, which many employers use as an employee benefit, has helped them care for their child(ren) when they are poorly or had an accident. When illnesses or accidents happen, it can make an already challenging and busy time more stressful, as parents try to balance working and caring for their child. To support, employers need to continue to improve this employee benefit and offer flexibility. This could reduce the number of sick days employees are taking, whilst also supporting employee’s mental health and boosting productivity.

3. Investing in the right protection:

Ensuring employees have the right protection would relieve some of the pressure’s employees are facing. And is essential to retain a happy, motivated, and engaged workforce, which will make sure employees know they are fully supported – in and out of the workplace. As wellness continues to be on the tip of employee’s tongues implementing a proactive health and well-being protection plan will support those employees with sick children or family members