After-School Care Worries Parents, Costing Companies Billions in Productivity

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At 3 o'clock, millions of working parents are very concerned where their kids are, what they're doing, and with whom. They're so worried that they have trouble focusing on work, resulting in a significant loss in productivity.

To keep workers worry-free and engaged, it's wise for companies to investigate programs that can help alleviate parent concerns about after-school time, according to a new report by Catalyst and Brandeis University. The report shows that at least 2.5 million working parents ' 1 in 20 working fathers and mothers ' are overly concerned about what their children are doing once the school bell rings. These parents are likely to be preoccupied with their worries while at work, giving rise to distractions, job disruptions, and errors; negative attitudes about promotion opportunities; and lower job satisfaction. Together these indicators contribute to between $50 and $300 billion annual loss in productivity across the country, the report estimates. Worry about one's children in the after-school hours cuts across professional rank and race boundaries, according to the report.

Fathers and mothers are equally vulnerable as well. Parents who have more responsibility for the care of children in the household, work longer hours, and whose children are in grades six through 12 experience the greatest amount of stress. Fathers who suffer a high level of worry are less satisfied with career advancement. What can companies do? The report shows that when employees have flexible schedules, they experience less worry about their children during the after-school hours. More than 75 percent of those surveyed said that having more control over their work hours and the ability to arrive later, leave early, or take off part of the day when needed greatly reduces their amount of stress. The option of telecommuting and bankable hours may also help.

Organizations that foster a culture of support for working parents and publicize and encourage all employees to take advantage of work/life programs that are available will fare better and protect their bottom line. 'After-School Worries: Tough on Parents, Bad for Business' was based on a survey of 1,755 employed parents ' 44.7 percent fathers and 55.3 percent mothers ' who work at one of three FORTUNE 100 companies across the country.

Visit 'After-School Worries: Tough on Parents, Bad for Business' to review the report in its entirety. Bright Horizons offers employers with working parents options for after-school care.

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Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.