With 80% of parents currently working in full-time positions, according to PeopleatWork data, it’s HR’s responsibility to ensure that flexible working and leave policies are put in place for those with children. However, according to a new report released by the charity Working Families, more and more parents are feeling the pressure to respond to emails in the evenings.
The 2020 Modern Families Index, in which the data was discovered, found that 44% of the 3,000 polled working parents check their work emails or complete unfinished work outside office hours. Of those that opted to do this, three quarters said that they did not have a choice and that it was expected of them.
However, the growing trend is causing huge disruptions to both parents’ working lives and home lives; half of respondents claimed that the pressure to be present outside of work hours has caused tension at home and led to arguments with either their children or partners.
The report explained that this dissonance between home and work life is currently making it impossible for parents to ‘switch off’ from their jobs, as their work is undermined by the proliferations of instant work messaging services and smartphone technology; half of all respondents agreed that the boundaries between home and work have blurred significantly.
However, the study also found positive evidence of more bosses taking note of the rising issue; 50% of respondents claimed that their employer was taking note of the strain on their time and was working to ensure that staff had a better balance. This is an increase from 42% five years ago.
Is the answer flexible working?
Whilst the obvious option for working parents seems to be a flexible working schedule, this may not be as effective as some believe; regardless of hours, bosses need to understand that workloads will be affected by different schedules.
Half of those polled said ‘flexible working’ actually increased the amount of hours they were putting in, and 60% stated that regularly taking evening and weekend time to clear their workload was the only feasible way of dealing with it.
"The research makes clear that jobs need to be 'human-sized'," Jane van Zyl, who runs Working Families, told the BBC. “Things need to change,” she concluded.