Fact Check: Employees are Not Choosing Jobs Instead of Caregiving

Working Mothers

Here's an interesting article, from Bloomberg: "Americans Are Choosing Paid Jobs Over Family Caregiving."

The gist, according to the article:

"More Americans are opting to earn a paycheck rather than staying home to care for family members, and it's helped to arrest a long-run decline in the nation's labor force participation rate."

The modest rebound has been linked to fewer adults - most notably women - opting out to care for children or parents.

Paid Jobs Instead of Family Caregiving? Not Really

It's certainly great news. If there's one thing employers have been worried about in recent years, it's the number (or rather shortage) of employees available for hire. Dire statistics have projected alarming gaps for the future, especially in fields like healthcare and tech.

The trouble is, it's not true. At least not in the literal sense.

Americans aren't choosing paid jobs instead of family caregiving responsibilities; they're choosing jobs in addition to them. Particularly women. That's an extremely important distinction.

Today women make up half of the workforce; they're more than half of college students; and they're good for business. The fact that they're feeling confident enough to opt into the workforce (or more importantly not opt out) is great news. If the shortage of employees (not to mention the number of days - or months - open positions have been idling empty) has shown us nothing, it's that it's going to take each and every one of our talented employees for our economy - and individual organizations - to remain competitive.

Recipe for Winning the Talent Wars

But those caregiving commitments  aren't going to go away once that talented employee re-enters the workforce.  How long those people contribute their talents will likely to depend on how possible the organization makes it for them to do so. We know from our Modern Family Index (MFI) that talented women (and in fact men) are gravitating away from organizations that make ordinary occurrences - like a sick child - an obstacle course. They're leaving jobs for organizations that don't think of "family" as a dirty word. They're even taking less money. The flipside is the Dream Company effect - the fact that when people work for companies that recognize families, they're not just idly working; they're excited about (committed to, engaged in) in their jobs.

Americans choosing jobs over caregiving implies it's a choice. It's not. Employees are always going to have children. Young people are always going to have aging parents.

None of them are choosing paid jobs instead of family caregiving; they're choosing jobs in addition to them.

The real winners are going to be the companies that help them out.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.