The COVID-19 pandemic has exacted a variety of hardships on people around the world — including financial, social, and safety-related ones. One hardship in particular that has proven to be difficult for many throughout the pandemic is being a working parent.
With parents trying to adjust to remote work, schools constantly opening and closing as case counts fluctuate, and child care options evaporating, it could be argued that there’s never been a more difficult time for parents to balance work with their family responsibilities.
We surveyed just over 1,000 working parents about the strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on their career and family. We asked about their financial outlook, how their stress levels have been impacted, and what support (if any) they’ve received from their employers during such an unprecedented time.
A Year of Stress and Concern
As the onset of the pandemic thrust many employees into new remote work environments, parents saw that reality coupled with swift school closures, as much of the country instituted stay-at-home orders. Add in the prospect of layoffs and unemployment, and it should come as no surprise that 61.3% of working parents said that their stress had been higher since the coronavirus stepped into the scene.
Concern about household finances also likely added to working parents’ stress. While all of the parents we surveyed were employed, their confidence in their family’s financial outlook appeared to have been shaken by the pandemic. The percentage of parents saying they were extremely concerned about family finances had jumped since the onset of the pandemic — 16.4% compared to 11.4%, respectively — and women were more likely than men to feel this way.
Coordinating Work and Parenting in Unprecedented Times
2020 is unlikely to be a year anyone will soon forget, and that rings especially true for parents, as the need to stay at home created a lot of complications. One such issue is that nearly 58% of respondents were spending more time on child care every week than they had prior to the pandemic.
For some, this was in addition to having to clock more work hours – a reality for 18.3% of working parents. Many are pointing to the new prominence of remote work as a reason why barriers between work life and home life are crumbling, and people are simply filling their new free time with more work.
Along that same vein, working parents reported a drop in work-life balance since the beginning of the pandemic. Parents were over three times more likely to describe their work-life balance as poor, compared to before the coronavirus. This was particularly true for working moms, who have faced their own unique challenges brought on by the pandemic, which seemed to only compound decades-old biases against mothers in the workplace. By September, the situation had gotten so bad that the Labor Department reported women were leaving the workplace at four times the rate of men.
Support for Working Parents
Naturally, the strains of the pandemic have left many asking what adequate support for working parents looks like. Some have advocated that keeping schools open amid the pandemic is the most impactful form of support for parents, but that’s still considered an imperfect option.
We asked working parents about the most effective forms of support they’d received from their employer throughout the pandemic. Over 48% of working parents said that more flexible hours were a key form of support for them. That was followed by employers being understanding of last-minute emergencies during the workday (43.8%).
Troublingly, over 1 in 10 working parents said they hadn’t been offered any effective means of support from their employer. The scramble to transition to remote work was a struggle for many, but there are actions employers can take to ensure they’re creating an accommodating environment for parents.
Parents on the Job Hunt
If adequate support hasn’t been made available, it’s understandable that working parents might decide to take their talents elsewhere. Based on our survey results, that’s exactly what many of them were doing: 50.1% of parents said they’re currently looking for a new job. Blue-collar workers and working dads were the most likely to report doing so.
Even with record-setting unemployment, there are jobs to be had. A number of companies and industries have seen demand for their products and services soar throughout 2020, creating the need for them to hire.
The main reason people reported seeking a new job was to increase their salary (58%). Given that so many reported feeling less secure in their finances since the emergence of the coronavirus, it makes sense that some have felt the need to up their income. Growth opportunities (42.7%) and improved health benefits (37.9%) were also common reasons for seeking new employment.
There’s no denying that working parents have faced particular challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of industry or working class. A majority of parents saw their stress levels rise and their work-life balance evaporate. Additionally, there were some that didn’t feel supported by their employer.
Another significant finding was that more than half of the working parents we surveyed said they were currently looking for a new job. That’s something Joblist can help with! Millions of jobs are listed in one place on Joblist every day. Plus, they can be filtered by a number of factors to help you locate the right jobs for you. Visit Joblist today to kick-start your job hunt.
We surveyed 1,006 currently employed parents on their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Respondents were 51.8% men and 47.8% women. Two respondents were nonbinary, one respondent was genderqueer, and one respondent chose to not disclose their gender. The average age of respondents was 38.6 with a standard deviation of 10.4.
Questions about means of support received from employers and reasons for looking for a new job were presented to respondents as check-all-that-apply questions. Therefore, percentages won’t add to 100.
Respondents self-identified their working class (blue collar vs. white collar) based on the following definitions:
Blue Collar: a member of the working class who performs manual labor and either earns an hourly wage or is paid piece rate for the amount of work done
White Collar: a salaried professional, typically referring to general office workers and management
The data we are presenting rely on self-report. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues may include, but are not limited to, the following: selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration.
Fair Use Statement
The COVID-19 pandemic has created hardships for many, but working parents have been forced to deal with unique challenges. If you would like to share this project with someone you know, you may do so for any noncommercial reuse. Please link back here so the entire project and its methodology can be reviewed. This also gives credit to our hardworking contributors, without whom this work wouldn’t be possible.