There is a two-fold increase among employees this year who now feel career progression is a higher priority amongst their work goals, according to The Work and Family 2022 survey results commissioned by Bright Horizons.

At the same time, even more employees continue to prioritise more family time. The results show that 58 percent of employees said family has become a higher priority in the past 12 months than before, a 21 percent increase on last year’s results.

But 31 percent said that their career ambitions are stronger now than a year ago, a two-fold increase on the 2021 results.

The results suggest employers face additional pressure to meet their demands at a time when firms are struggling to recruit and retain talent, with 63 percent of employees aged 55+ said they’re rethinking their direction and purpose.

Employers wanting to attract and retain talent in a tight labour market will need to plan proactively to meet both of these employee priorities; employees demanding both better work-life balance and career progression is becoming the new normal.


Childcare arrangements

Two-thirds (67%) of respondents experienced a breakdown in childcare arrangements in the last year.

While this is slightly lower than the 71 percent in last year’s survey amid lockdowns, it shows the need for short notice care arrangements for workers persists even when schools and early years settings are open.

Of those experiencing these childcare breakdowns, well over half (58%) had a breakdown of five days or more. Also, 28 percent had a breakdown of childcare of more than 10 days.

Respondents to the survey had a range of caring responsibilities from childcare to eldercare, including those in the “sandwich generation” with both. The research found that breakdowns in care can not only be unexpected but also long lasting.

The most popular option for those facing breakdowns in care arrangements once their employer-provided back-up care days have been used was to take annual leave.

Given that the number of back-up days needed by employees is rising year on year, employers wanting to ensure the wellbeing of their employees should be aware of the impact that this ‘Plan C’ option may have on staff productivity and engagement, through missing out on using leave for family leisure.


Care provision

 The research showed a clear link between employer sponsored care provision and a positive impact across a range of metrics, including productivity, overall wellbeing and stress reduction, and return to work after time off to have a baby or adopt.

Three-quarters (75%) for those who use employer-sponsored Workplace Nurseries or Nursery Partnerships and 88 percent for those who have used back-up care are more likely more likely to recommend their employer to others based purely on having access to care provision.

Denise Priest, Executive Director of Work and Family Solutions at Bright Horizons, said: “While expectations and new ways of working may still be crystallising as employers and employees adjust to the post-pandemic world, it’s important to recognise that not all working roles can be hybrid such as those in a hospital or a manufacturing plant. However, there is a clear direction of travel for forward-thinking employers to note.

“Family friendly employers who provide tangible support for employees, such as back-up care provision for that clear majority of employees who experience breakdowns in child, adult or eldercare plans, not only see the positive impact in employee engagement scores, but the figures here show it also helps employers with their succession planning and talent pipeline. Being family-inclusive further contributes to narrowing the gender pay gap, with parental leave returners and those with care responsibilities better able to take on promotions and positive career progression, whatever their gender.

“This research with our clients’ employees shows providing access to back-up and ongoing care makes good business sense as well as being beneficial for employees. Employers already providing these services are ahead of the game in talent retention.”