Working Parents are Burnt out, Unsupported by Employers, Desperate to Connect with their Kids    

Survey highlights the pain points of working parents in South Africa.

Being a working parent has never been easy, and it’s even less so in today’s digitally ‘always-connected’ world.

The expectations of modern workers far exceed what was acceptable fifty years ago, which was to close shop promptly at 5pm and leave work at the office. Nowadays, especially with the advent of smartphones and tablets, the lines tend to get blurry, and work stress begins to pile up. Add to this the financial pressure that most South Africans are feeling, and it’s no wonder working parents are struggling.

Results of the TPC Working Parents Survey

Our recent survey conducted over the period of two months found that 53% of the respondents had suffered from burnout within the last three months.

Further to this, managing the work-life balance was listed as the hardest thing about being a working parent, with 92% admitting to struggling at some point with it. This was followed by the misfortune of missing parenting commitments due to work.  

“Unfortunately, South African parents are stressed and overworked, and there is a knock-on effect when it comes to raising their kids. Considering that 72% of our respondents are in a two-income household, there is immense pressure on parents as they are being pulled in many directions,” says Jonathan Hoffenberg, our Parent and Community and Empowerment and Support Manager (PACES).

Hoffenberg was not surprised to learn that over 50% of respondents said that they only sometimes feel supported by their employers, with a majority of the female employees reporting that they believe they are overlooked for promotions and work opportunities due to having a family.

33% also maintained that they were made to feel guilty by their employers when it comes to parenting commitments that clash with work time, while almost 60% said that at one point or another, they’ve had to change their working arrangements to suit their childcare needs.

One parent who wished to remain anonymous says “As a parent you want to be there for your kids, but my job makes it near impossible at times. I’m constantly carrying guilt because I know that work requires so much of my focus. But I feel like I have no choice.”

Working parents want more flexibility 

When asked what they wish their employers paid more attention to, as working parents 57% said flexibility and hybrid work opportunities.  

They would also appreciate more paid leave days for parenting commitments, and third on the list was a salary adjustment, which speaks to the 44% who reported childcare being a cost they struggle to carry.

“A majority of South African parents need to work so they can pay the bills, so it’s really up to the employer to see how they can meet their employees halfway. Raising children who grow to become responsible well-adjusted adults is one of the most important jobs in the world. This requires parents who are present and not always burdened or distracted by workplace stress,” says Hoffenberg.

Managing stress levels around their kids was the number one area the survey respondents highlighted they wished to improve upon (48%).

A further 33% admitted feeling guilty for not spending enough time with their kids, with a large number saying they want to connect more with their children.

How employers can support working parents  

Considering that over 53% of the respondents feel only somewhat confident in their skills as working parents, Hoffenberg points out that parents are desperately needing more support from the workplace.

He informs that not only are there ways to help working parents by allowing them things like more flexibility or paid leave, but there are tools and resources that companies can offer employees that can help them to better manage their stress so they can be present for their children.

“For example, at The Parent Centre, we start staff meetings with personal sharing which gives staff the opportunity to talk about the issues they are facing at home. This just opens up space for compassion in the workplace and helps to make managers more empathetic,” says Hoffenberg.

Given that an overwhelming 81% of respondents said they would attend employer-provided parent training and counselling on or off-site, it’s evident that parents are in dire need of resources and knowledge to help them on the parenting journey.

“Early childhood is critical for emotional, cognitive, and social development, and parents need to be able to put in the time. You can never get those years back. So, I urge companies to seriously consider how they can support their employees. Raising our future generation should be a collective effort, and a workplace that cares about  family is a workspace worth caring about in turn,” says Hoffenberg.

Support The Parent Centre by making a donation.

Name | The Parent Centre
Acc type | Cheque
Bank | First National Bank
Acc No. 501 5111 8286
Branch code | 201109
Reference | Name