Back in February, Working Families and Bright Horizons released the findings from their third Modern Families Index – a longitudinal study into the dynamics of families in the UK. It shone a light on some interesting changes in what the UK’s families are doing and feeling.

  • Full-time work is increasing amongst parents: in almost half of dual-parent households both parents are working full-time
  • 1/3 of parents aren’t exercising or eating as healthily as they’d like to
  • One in three parents are feeling burnout often or all the time

The study raises some important questions: when parents are caught between the competing commitments of caring and work, how do we let them know that a commitment to themselves is important and justifiable too? The new ‘Me-ternity Leave’ idea may be extreme (and a skewed idea of what maternity leave actually entails!), but the argument that individuals, whatever their responsibilities, need time to be themselves is deeply reasonable.

The great news for working parents is that employers are increasingly attuned to these concerns. Over three quarters of respondents to our annual Client Satisfaction Survey cited wellbeing and work-life integration as their main priorities for their people strategy in the coming year.

With gym and healthcare benefits becoming more mainstream wellness tools, companies that are looking to distinguish themselves as leading employers need to be more innovative as they seek to stand out. Access to health benefits can be hugely impactful for employees, but how do employers ensure people have the time and energy in order to make the most of these facilities?

It won’t be a surprise to people who know Bright Horizons that we see supporting families as an integral part of supporting wellbeing. Alleviating pressures on working families, whether it be through back-up care or the benefit of an on-site nurserycan have a huge impact on the way families manage their energy levels and take care of themselves.

It’s not just me saying this: 91% of our clients told us that their nursery or back-up care programme has had a positive impact on employee wellbeing, whilst 96% said it has had an impact on their employees’ work/life balance. Family-friendly benefits are a meaningful way to put rhetoric into practice. In our surveys of parents and back-up care families, the same words appear time and again: “peace of mind,” “ease” and “flexibility”.

Still not convinced? We’ll be publishing the findings from our new research, The Lasting Impact of Workplace Nurseries and Back-Up Care later this month.