How employers can reduce anxiety for working parents

By Kixcare

April 19, 2024

Every week 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a mental health issue. The economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated to be approximately $51 billion annually, resulting in a $6.3 billion loss from reduced productivity (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health).

Working parents often burn the candle at both ends – moving from one “full-time” job to another. With pressure at the office and pressure at home, working parents are experiencing worsened mental health and increasing fatigue. More than three-quarters (78%) of participants in KixCare’s working parent's survey reported feeling stressed and anxious at work, with a further 58% of respondents reporting burnout.

With statistics like these, it’s evident that there is room for forward-thinking employers to improve work-life balance for working parents, help reduce employee anxiety, and positively impact workplace productivity.

Attempting to balance work and home pressures increases anxiety for parents. Here are five actionable ways that employers can help.

Set clear priorities

As working parents, your employees juggle a variety of different tasks at work but also at home. Whether it’s picking up the kids from school, getting supper ready for the whole family, or wrestling kids to get in their pyjamas and go to bed – being a parent is no small feat!

Considerate employers will set clear priorities for their employees. Streamlining your needs and using an organized system can highlight deadlines and create concrete expectations for your employees. This gives employees the structure they need to help them know what tasks to prioritize within working hours.

Setting clear priorities not only benefits your employees but also benefits you as an employer. By creating a schedule that will deliver your most urgent tasks on time, you keep on schedule, and families can find a balance between their work and home schedules to ensure everything gets done on time.

Create a support system

The saying, “It takes a village to raise a family,” is not far from the truth, and you – as the employer – are most definitely a part of that village. According to research conducted by Forbes Magazine, due to the added responsibility of having dependents, working parents are more stressed out than non-parents:

  • 80% are concerned about money (compared to 58% for non-parents)

  • 77% are concerned about the economy (compared to 59% for non-parents)

  • 72% are concerned about housing costs (compared to 39% for non-parents)

Parents undergo daily challenges every day outside of their working schedule. Without the necessary support from work, they simply cannot perform to the best of their ability.

Encouraging your employees to connect with those around them who are undergoing similar stresses and experiences can be incredibly helpful when it comes to curating a successful work-life balance.

Previously, we have discussed creating a working parent support group on Slack or Teams as a simple and cost-effective way to make parents feel supported and uplifted in the workplace. It’s a safe space where they can be surrounded by people from the same organization who can connect about similar transitions and challenges they are going through.

We’ve also suggested incorporating a buddy system by partnering a new parent from parental leave with a parent whose children are older. That way, the new parent learns more about parenthood and gets tried and tested tips and tricks about navigating the transition back to work from someone who has done it before!

However you choose to do it, creating the ability for your employees to connect with the support systems available to them in the workplace enables communal emotional support and helps parents feel valued.

Limit after-work or after-school involvement

In addition to advocating for parents within your organization to have a support system within work, you can do your part to uplift parents as their employer by limiting after-work or after-school involvements.

All employees understand that, upon occasion, working late on a special project or to meet an important deadline is necessary and unavoidable. However, by limiting after-work or after-school commitments, you allow your employee to be present at home, have more availability for self-care or alone time, and increase the quality time they spend with their family.

Limiting after-work or after-school commitments can be as simple as – where possible – not scheduling meetings first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. By giving parents this wiggle room at the beginning and the end of the day, you are enabling them to create a more flexible schedule to avoid conflicts such as daycare drop-offs and pick-ups.

Build routines

For busy families, having a solid routine is essential to getting through the day. Routines provide structure to working parents’ lives where they are required in several places, by several people, throughout the day.

As an employer, you can facilitate working parents building a schedule by allowing more flexibility regarding working hours, even if it’s just a couple of days a week. In a study done by PwC, 79% of employees said they could manage family matters more successfully when working from home.

A fully-remote or hybrid schedule benefits employees and has also been proven to increase company productivity and, therefore, revenue. A Stanford Business study found that companies that allowed for a remote work schedule saw a $2,000 (USD) dollar increase in profit per remote worker (Stanford Business).

Additionally, remote work, due to the flexibility it provides, is a great option to have when it comes to retaining and attracting top-tier talent, with 64% of recruiters stating being able to pitch a work-from-home option helps them to source top talent (PR Newswire), and a further 74% of workers state that they are more likely to stay at a company if there is a remote work option (Owl Labs).

As an employer, you can facilitate your employees' ability to create workable schedules by offering flexible hours or work locations that still benefit your company’s best interests. It’s a win-win!

Include family-friendly healthcare benefits

Employers risk losing valuable talent because they are not providing the necessary support systems for working parents. Working parents are not feeling heard. This is supported by over half (55%) of respondents to our working parents survey stating that they believed their employer does not care about their family.

Tailoring your benefits solutions to the needs of families means you can help reduce employee stress and anxiety and decrease the time working parents need to take off to get care for sick children. Indeed, our survey found that 72% of participants agree that employers should provide support and specific programs to working parents.

Family-friendly benefits, such as accessible pediatric healthcare services, fertility services, paid leave and childcare assistance, better support for your parent employees, and reduced absenteeism in the workplace. By providing inclusive family benefits, you have a direct effect on the mental well-being of your working parents. Providing pediatric and family-centred benefits to your company plan allows parents to navigate better balancing pressures from work and home.

The Kix360° Approach

KixCare’s pediatric health and wellness program, Kix360°, offers 24/7 access to a team of specialized pediatric Registered Nurses via messaging and video calling. With unlimited visits per family, every child in your employees’ home gets the specialized care and support they deserve whenever and wherever they are.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners support our KixNurses in providing diagnoses, testing, and prescriptions. They will also provide referrals as needed to Pediatricians, Specialists, and Allied Healthcare Professionals.

All KixTeam members have trained in leading children’s hospitals, including SickKids, CHEO, McMaster Children's Hospital, Montreal Children’s, and LHSC Children's Hospital.

Additionally, our KixTeam can provide quality clinical services such as pediatric mental health expertise, medication counselling support (including prescriptions), medical notes and form completion, expert parenting and health resources, and webinars from pediatric professionals to empower your employees in their parenting journey.

By providing your working parents with benefits that help the whole family, you show that 55% of employees that you do care.

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