Back-to-school season means more stress for working parents: Survey

New school year affects employee productivity, morale
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 09/04/2012

Back-to-school preparations can quickly take a toll on working parents — and the stress that comes with a new school year affects more than just the home front.

Many employees who have grade-school or college-aged children experience financial and personal stress from back-to-school preparations. And these stressors impact their productivity and personal work-life balance, according to a survey of 427 American workers by Workplace Options and Public Policy Polling.

Survey results show that:

•Sixty-three per cent of workers said the start of a new school year adds stress to co-workers who are working parents.

•Thirty-five per cent expect back-to-school preparations to produce additional financial or personal stress in their own lives.

•Twenty-seven per cent said the start of a new school year negatively affected the moods, attitudes or schedule availability of their co-workers.

“It is not uncommon for personal stress and pressures to make their way into the workplace,” said Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options. “Back-to-school preparations can put an emotional and financial strain on employees, and often alters work schedules, priorities and productivity. A lot of companies are beginning to understand these needs and take a proactive stance to help employees manage these pressures effectively.”

A major challenge facing working parents with young children is child care during the afternoon hours between the end of the school day and the end of the work day. Managing this time and finding child-care arrangements can impact the productivity of working parents.

Forty-six per cent of respondents said that the start of school impacted the productivity of their colleagues with school or college-aged children. And of those, 72 per cent said that their colleagues’ productivity was negatively affected, found the survey.

“Sometimes perception is greater than fact, but this is absolutely an issue that affects employers of all sizes and all industries,” said Debnam. “Parents with younger children may need to leave early or may spend more time on the phone with children or babysitters checking in, but if employers provide the tools these individuals need to do their job effectively and manage the needs of their family, then both parties win.”

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