Public Interest

The necessity for flexible work amidst a childcare crisis

The difficulties currently confronting all employees – as well as their employers – are well documented. Businesses and their employees are at the behest of escalating costs from all directions, while wages are failing to keep pace. Childcare is one of the services that has become a growing issue for human resources as the nation's services come under increasing pressure.

Sources report that nearly 400 nurseries have closed in England since August 2020, a decrease from 27,610 nurseries. According to reports most early years providers stated that the funding they receive for three- and four-year-olds is insufficient to support the cost of providing these places.

All of this leaves parents in a worse position, as their options for child care decrease and the associated costs rise, further restricting what was already one of the most expensive child care systems in the world.

Why should HR be concerned?

Recent analysis reveals that the cost of a nursery place for a child under the age of two in England is the majority of the parents' salary, and similar in the east of England and inner London. This is becoming too much of a burden for many parents, making it seem pointless to work full time. As a result, more people are quitting their jobs or reducing their hours to part-time. And the last thing the labor market needs at this time is a decline in talent.

As a result of the disproportionate influence of childcare responsibilities on women, there will also be repercussions in terms of diversity and inclusion. Currently, nearly three-quarters of part-time employees are women, the majority of whom feel compelled to work limited hours. With no respite in sight for the rising cost of living, many more women may follow in these footsteps. Numerous businesses are placing a greater emphasis on their approach to diversity and inclusion, making the childcare crisis a significant obstacle for them. 

Flexible work arrangements to address the Childcare Crisis:

Completely abandoning a career is the last resort. According to a survey, two-thirds of working mothers feel that their careers have ‘stalled' since having children, and most are seeking to switch jobs, increase their hours, or take on a second job to supplement their income. If employers wish to retain these women in the workforce, they will need to explore alternative means of meeting their requirements.

Flexibility in the workplace is a crucial consideration. The annual maternity survey showed that flexible working was a 'dealbreaker' for three out of four mothers, who said they would investigate a company's flexible working policy before applying for a job there. 

Facilitating working parents' employment responsibilities in a manner that allows them to manage their childcare obligations could be the key to preventing them from restricting their talent pool even further.

The positive news is that HR departments appear determined to address this issue. In Natural HR's annual report, in which we surveyed the HR community about the priorities, challenges, and trends they will face in 2023, two-thirds of HR professionals reported supporting flexible working initiatives. In fact, this was the most prevalent initiative promoted by human resources, excluding wellness and mental health initiatives.

If you want to get the most out of your employees – regardless of their work schedules – then HR software can genuinely unleash their potential.