Number of the day: ineffective childcare programs

61: Percentage of employers that feel their programs are only somewhat effective or not effective at all, signifying a real opportunity to improve their programs.

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U.S. employers are boosting efforts to meet the childcare needs of working parents of young and school-age children, according to a new survey by Willis Towers Watson. But while most employers (74%) believe supporting these employees is a top priority today, less than four in 10 (39%) agree that current programs and policies to support them are effective.

What it means for HR leaders

Working parents are among those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, struggling to juggle childcare and work responsibilities. While many employers have added programs and benefits to help in recent months, the Willis Towers Watson data indicates there’s significant work left to be done.

According to Willis Towers Watson, just 30% of employers offer access to backup childcare services; 27% provide discounts or subsidies for childcare centers, tutoring or other educational resources; 22% offer company-subsidized backup childcare days and 13% of employers provide offerings that support the formation of learning pods, tutoring or other school-focused needs.

The data adds to another significant finding from FlexJobs showing that nearly half of working parents have had to quit or reduce hours because of the pandemic. Without more company support–and as the school year kicks off–more working parents are likely to follow.

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Related: How many working parents have quit due to the pandemic?

“The challenges and stress of balancing work and childcare, heightened by the pandemic, have exacerbated the everyday juggling act required by working parents with young and school-age children,” says Rachael McCann, senior director of health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.