Nine in 10 working parents say support from prospective employers is important when considering new role, research reveals

Experts say line manager training is critical in ensuring employees with children feel appreciated

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The majority (93 per cent) of working parents feel having employers that are supportive to parents is important or very important when they consider a new role, research by REC parenting has revealed. 

Of these, more than half (54 per cent) of working mothers believe it is very important, compared to 38 per cent of fathers, the survey of 2,000 working parents with children aged 18 or under found.

Those aged between 25 and 34 (50 per cent) and 35 and 44 (51 per cent) were most likely to feel it is very important when considering a role.  

Joanne Waterworth, head of employer services at Working Families, told People Management the study chimes with research revealing that a culture that enables a work-life balance was a “top priority” for parents and carers. 

She said: “Many employers have already woken up to the benefits of supporting their employees through flexible working, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. 

“Cultivating the right kind of culture, where the demands of family life are understood and appreciated, is critical to creating environments where parents and carers can thrive and, crucially, for attracting new talent.” 

Waterworth also said that the key to creating a supportive culture was “making sure everyone is on the same page, which can mean training line managers about the benefits of flexible working”, adding that measures to support wellbeing and mental health were also important, as well as inclusiveness. 

The REC parenting study also revealed that 83 per cent of respondents wanted line managers to be aware that they were parents, with 73 per cent saying they should receive training on supporting staff who have children.

“Working parents make up a significant proportion of the UK workforce and it’s vital that employers recognise the pressure they are under by offering both empathy and support,” said Ana Aznar, founder and CEO of REC Parenting.

“With almost a million vacancies still open, employers can gain a real competitive advantage by creating a culture and workplace that supports people in all aspects of their lives.”

She added: “Employee retention has been cited as the biggest challenge for HR in 2024 and providing support for working parents should be considered as part of the strategy to address this threat.”

However, the research also discovered that 40 per cent of respondents have considered quitting their jobs because they found it difficult to balance their work and care obligations. This rose to 45 per cent for those aged 25-34 years old.

In addition, mothers (46 per cent) were significantly more likely to have considered leaving their jobs than fathers, while 37 per cent of working parents very often or often feel overwhelmed by juggling work and parenting responsibilities. 

It comes as a separate study of 2,264 adults conducted by Workingmums.co.uk indicated that more than half (58 per cent) of respondents were looking to change employment, extend their hours or perform an additional job to raise their salary. 

Charlotte Woodworth, gender equality director at Business in the Community, told People Management: “Supporting employees to work flexibly is something that everyone values in the workplace, especially those with caring responsibilities.

“Research has found that the majority of childcare responsibilities fall on women, resulting in more women having to leave their jobs as balancing work and care has become too much.”

Woodworth pointed out that nearly half of working-age adults have caring responsibilities, so “employers that consider caring the norm, not the exception, and truly embrace flexible working will reap the benefits as they will hold on to vital talent and have access to a larger talent pool”.

She added: “To support more women in getting into work and to progress in their careers, employers must foster a culture that supports men to care, so that the balance of caring is split more evenly among men and women.” 

Read the CIPD's guide to flexible working legislation, and explore its resources on maternity and parental rights