The experience of the American family has changed drastically. Today, there are more dual-earner households, single parents and female breadwinners than ever before. By the same token, demographic shifts and technology breakthroughs have transformed the nature of work. It’s not surprising that work-life struggles are common.
It is, however, time to rethink what we know about work and family. As we recognize National Work and Family Month, let’s reflect on some of today’s work-life secrets and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.
Secret #1: More U.S. women plan to have a child in the future than they did in 2002. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 50% of U.S. women expect to have a child in the future, up from 46% in 2002. And while the total number of babies born per female (the general fertility rate) is the lowest ever in the U.S., for the first time, women in their 30s are having more babies than younger moms. The birth rate for women ages 30 to 34 was about 103 per 1,000 in 2016; the rate for women ages 25 to 29 was 102 per 1,000.
Parental leave, inclusive of men and women welcoming a child into their lives, is a game-changing support that employees, especially millennials, value. Sixty-five percent of NBGH members responding to the recent Employer Efforts to Support Working Parents survey offer paid parental leave for bonding purposes, up 20% from 2015.
It’s not only about giving employee time to bond and care for their newest addition. Reintegration into the workforce is important for employee retention and success. Consider allowing new parents to transition back to a part-time schedule for the first few weeks and offer other forms of assistance to take the stress out of returning to work, such as on-site and/or backup childcare, mentors for new moms and dads, lactation support services and telework opportunities.
Secret #2: Adult Diapers Could Soon Outsell Baby Diapers. In 2011, sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those for babies, and the trend may soon follow in the U.S. America’s 65-and-over population is projected to nearly double over the next three decades, from 48 million to 88 million by 2050.
“Older people are a rapidly growing proportion of the world’s population,” said National Institute of Aging Director Richard J. Hodes, MD. “People are living longer, but that does not necessarily mean that they are living healthier. The increase in our aging population presents many opportunities and also several public health challenges that we need to prepare for.”
As our population ages, employees will increasingly assume elder care responsibilities for loved ones. Employers can provide benefits to alleviate the strains of elder care, including family leave for caregiving, flexible work arrangements, adult daycare centers and/or backup care, in-home assessments, support groups, workshops and other informational services.
Secret #3: Work-Family Conflicts Affect Men and Women Similarly. New research published in Journal of Applied Psychology showed men and women report similar levels of work interfering with the family and family interfering with work. Today, dads (57%) are just as likely as moms (58%) to say being a parent is extremely important to their overall identity.
The changing role of dads has introduced new challenges, and employers have a role to play in bringing fathers into the work-life conversation and promoting a culture that supports the success of all employees.
If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge on the topic of working fathers and hearing how employers can help alleviate the conflict they experience, join us for The New Dad: The Career-Caregiving Conflict webinar, featuring Brad Harrington of the Boston College Center for Work & Family, on Thursday, November 2nd at noon EST.
For more ideas to support your employees and their families, review the Business Group’s The Family-Friendly Employer: Top Companies Take the Lead in Parental Leave and Programs for Working Parents and Caregiving webpage.