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Fathers More Concerned When It Comes to Caregiving Responsibilities

Perceptyx Workplace Data Show Fathers More Concerned Than Mothers When It Comes to Caregiving Responsibilities, Job Security, & Productivity

Perceptyx, the employee survey and people analytics platform helping companies see the way forward, finds that caregivers are more than twice as likely to report that their remote work environment has an adverse effect on their productivity and focus. From parents without child care to those caring for aging parents or family members battling illness, employees struggle to meet the expectations of the pre-pandemic work day, despite how effective their organization's response to the outbreak may be. New research into employee experience data also shows that caregivers are almost twice as likely to say the company’s response has not minimized stress, regardless of whether caregivers are working from home or on the front lines.

“The tension of trying to succeed as both a professional and as a caregiver simultaneously is pushing many employees to the breaking point, with no clear end in sight,” said Megan Steckler, senior consultant at Perceptyx. “This is a reality that organizations must address directly and empathetically with their employees, which begins by truly understanding the difficulties being faced at both a macro and an individual level.”

For working parents, research data suggests that fathers are likely to worry more than mothers across a number of areas, with the greatest difference between their female counterparts seen in the areas of caregiving responsibilities, job security, and job productivity. In fact, caregiving responsibilities emerged as the topic with the highest percentage of fathers responding with a “moderate amount” or “great deal” of worry, a full 18 percentage points higher than mothers. These discrepancies may be due in part to a new level of awareness fathers are experiencing when it comes to caregiving and family needs. As they spend more time at home juggling work and family demands, they are worrying much more than they did prior to the pandemic. For working mothers however, the stresses associated with caregiving are familiar and were well documented long before COVID-19.

Additional data also found that all caregivers are less comfortable expressing their concerns, despite the new stressors and their need for support. Over 45 percent the caregivers who were uncomfortable expressing their concerns didn't feel as if their manager cared about them as a person. Many of those parents are experiencing intense guilt, acknowledging they are less productive and not performing at their best, but fear admitting that to managers who did not show empathy or offer support. These communication barriers have potential to cause significant issues, as employees become more burnt out yet don’t feel comfortable speaking up and asking for what they need.

“Throughout the pandemic, Perceptyx clients have used real-time feedback from their employees to help drive decisions with the knowledge of what top concerns they faced,” continued Steckler. “While relationships between manager and employee remain critical, the broad insights on both current and future needs continues to prove invaluable during these unprecedented events.”

Based on Perceptyx research findings, the organization has developed these topline recommendations for any organization with caregiver employees:

  • Individualize Accommodations - It is important to understand the unique caregiving responsibilities faced by each employee as these can take so many forms. Managers should ask about the employee’s family, how they are coping, and what they need personally to manage the situation effectively. Avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach, and instead, individualize accommodations to address the specific barriers each is facing. Rather than focusing on equality among team members, focus on fairness: give each person what he or she really needs to succeed through this crisis.
  • Allow Flexible Work Arrangements that Acknowledge our Shared Reality - Caregivers need even greater flexibility with not only where they work, but when and how. There will be interruptions and challenges which will be important for managers to acknowledge. Managers can lead by example in showing employees that it’s acceptable to see a family member come into the frame of a zoom call, and that it is okay to step away to help a child with homework. The most important aspect is reassuring employees that taking these caregiving moments will not negatively impact their performance reviews or career opportunities in the future.
  • Practice Empathy - One best practice for supporting people through any challenging time is to avoid empty statements such as, “Let me know if you need anything.” Instead, ask employees what they are facing, listen to the concerns or challenges raised, and identify specific ways to help. This is an incredibly vulnerable time for many caregivers who feel as if they are between a rock and a hard place. Leaders should demonstrate empathy by encouraging and modeling honesty, vulnerability, and grace.
  • Give Your Employees Permission to Take Care of Themselves. Company culture is the outward manifestation of the expectations, assumptions, and beliefs held by those with the most authority and influence. The culture of some organizations either implicitly or explicitly encourage employees to put the needs of the business over their own personal needs. This is never the trademark of a healthy culture, and is especially true today.

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