Easing the COVID-19 Burden on Working Parents

Related Expertise: Diversity & Inclusion, People Strategy, Leadership Development

Easing the COVID-19 Burden on Working Parents

By Matt KrentzEmily KosAnna Green, and Jennifer Garcia-Alonso

Even before the COVID-19 crisis hit, many working parents struggled to balance work and home life, but the pressures of the pandemic have made a tough situation that much tougher. With schools and daycare centers closed, parents have become full-time childcare providers and home-school teachers, even as they try to meet their work responsibilities. And as new research from BCG shows, the result is a far bigger burden on already taxed families—with real implications for company performance and the talent pipeline.

We surveyed working parents in five countries (the US, UK, France, Germany, and Italy). Among the most noteworthy findings:

Explore the slideshow with more detailed survey results below.

Survey Methodology

The data is based on a survey conducted with 3,055 working parents in five countries (the US, UK, Italy, Germany, and France) from March 20, 2020, through April 3, 2020. All respondents have a minimum of one child under age 18 living with them at least 50% of the time. When the survey was conducted, all respondents were employed (full- or part-time) by a company with 100 or more employees and were working for at least ten hours per week. The survey excluded furloughed employees.

It’s unlikely that the situation will be resolved soon. As of mid-May, schools were still closed in 162 countries across the globe, affecting 70% of children worldwide. Even when schools and camps eventually reopen, many are likely to do so on a modified basis, alternating days or weeks of care in order to minimize contact and exposure among children. That could actually exacerbate the burden on parents, in that they will be expected to return to the office without any support for their children.

As companies prepare for a new reality, they need to take into account the differentiated needs of their employees with children, many of whom are a critical part of the talent pipeline—today’s middle managers and tomorrow’s senior leaders—that companies have invested heavily in developing and retaining. The issue is particularly important for women, who remain underrepresented on leadership teams and who are shouldering an even higher burden of care. As a result, without an active caregiver strategy, companies risk backsliding and losing their hard-won progress in gender diversity.

Four Ways to Support Employees

For company leadership teams, we have four recommendations to help ease the burden of COVID-19 on employees with children. (Although this research focused on parents, the recommendations apply broadly for all caregivers, such as those caring for elderly relatives.)

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