4 ways employers can alleviate holiday stress for working parents

It’s common knowledge for HR leaders that working parents will encounter stressful childcare challenges year-round. But, according to a recent survey, childcare-related stress is especially increased during the holiday season—and employers have a role in alleviating it.

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The survey, commissioned by childcare provider Bright Horizons (and conducted by Opinium), found that a dramatic 68% of 500 employed parents polled said that juggling work and childcare is among the top factors driving increased stress during the holiday season.

Nearly half of those parents said they need more childcare support during the holiday season because their children are on break, and they need additional help so they can work. Additionally, 34% also report needing extra childcare—such as back-up care or holiday camps—to help bridge the gap due to holiday closures of their regular childcare options. Finally, 47% of working parents reported they could use more childcare support to complete everything on their holiday to-do list.

Given the impact of stress on productivity and employee mental health, employers should be motivated to step in and alleviate some of the childcare stress parents are feeling, says Priya Krishnan, chief digital and transformation officer at Bright Horizons.

“With holidays being particularly stressful for parents of young children, employer-sponsored childcare benefits can play a crucial role in helping alleviate that stress,” she says.

What employers can do for working parents

Working parents already have ideas for how they would like their employer to offer support.

Forty-three percent said they could benefit from their employer paying for childcare, while 34% cite emergency childcare benefits, which would help when back-up care is needed. Nearly one-third said they would appreciate their employer offering on-site childcare, while nearly as many would benefit from the employer providing an FSA for childcare expenses.

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Krishnan notes that the growing demand for childcare is not exclusive to the holiday season. For example, earlier this year, Bright Horizons’ Modern Family Index found that most working parents (49%) wish their employers would do more to help lighten the childcare burden in general.

Having that support doesn’t only simplify the logistics of childcare, she says, but knowing their kids are well-cared for can help working parents address the guilt many feel in balancing work and home. The recent survey found that about two-thirds of working parents report feeling guilty during the holiday season as they strive to juggle their kids, work and holiday commitments.

“Employer-sponsored childcare is helping thousands of families nationwide, both inside and outside the workplace,” she says. “While the holidays add extra stress, employers need to provide these benefits to parents year-round to alleviate ongoing struggles with ‘working parent guilt.’ “

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].