Bright Horizons MFI Study Shows Parents Worry Honesty Could Cost Them Their Jobs

MFI infographic 2020

February 6, 2020 – Working parents worry that being honest at work about family responsibilities could cost them their jobs, according to the sixth-annual Modern Family Index (MFI), commissioned by Bright Horizons and conducted by Kelton Global. The study revealed that not much has changed in the last six years as working parents continue to struggle to manage work and family commitments.

According to the Modern Family Index, 32% of working parents worry about getting fired, 28% worry they will be denied a raise, and 26% feel they will not get a promotion because of family responsibilities.

The survey also showed more working parents today sneak out of work to take care of family responsibilities compared to 2014, with 54% leaving unannounced because of family emergencies, up from 47%, and 47% leaving to take their children to go to the doctor, up from 38%. Moreover, 1 in 4 say they fake sick days to tend to family responsibilities. 

What’s more, the number of working parents who are suffering from burnout today (38%) has increased by a third since 2015. For some, never being able to unplug from work is the root cause of their burnout. Many point to the fact that their boss (25%), senior leaders (21%) or peers (16%) expect them to be accessible to tackle work outside of their normal schedule, encroaching on family time and personal responsibilities and obligations.

"We think as a society we are progressing in the workplace, but the data from the Modern Family Index tells a different story. It is clear that more progress is needed. Employers need to support working parents and create work environments in which all employees feel comfortable being honest and transparent about their family obligations," says Bright Horizons Chief Human Resources Officer Maribeth Bearfield. "There are some easy strategies employers can adopt to help alleviate stress, mental load, and burnout and improve workplace culture. Especially in a tight talent market, employers need to be doing as much as they can to attract and retain working parents."

Working Parents’ Burnout Rising: A Red Flag for Employers in a Tight Talent Market

The cumulative impact of being stretched thin at work and at home, keeping up with the little lies to get by, needing to attend to family responsibilities, and facing disappointment from family members exacerbates the stress working parents feel. With employee burnout at an all-time high, employers may pay the ultimate price if they don’t provide a supportive environment that enables working parents to be successful. According to the survey, employees are willing to walk out the door if things don’t improve, and a significant majority will pull away to manage their burnout.

Bearfield adds, "The collective impact of being stretched thin at work while facing continued disappointment at home is forcing parents to leave their jobs in search of workplaces that are more in tune with modern priorities. It is time for all employers to focus attention on the needs of their workforce or risk being left behind in the war for talent."

To download the full Sixth Annual Bright Horizons Modern Family Index report, click here.