Research unveiled today has revealed the immense challenges faced by working parents in the UK. 60 percent of parents working in the media know someone who has left their role because of pressures that come with being a working parent. This is a rise from 57 percent two years ago – while a third (32 percent) have been made to feel uncomfortable by employers or colleagues about their parenting responsibilities.

Even worse than this 20 percent of parents in the sector say their employer does not support them at all. The survey of 600 parents, non-parents, HRs and heads of talent working in the advertising and media sector, covering creative agencies, media agencies and media owners, was carried out by industry support organisation NABS.

This issue goes much deeper than the media though. A recent survey by the British Chambers of Commerce found that of the small businesses that offered flexible working, 70 percent reported better employer-employee relations, 60 percent found it easier to retain staff and 50 percent reported high productivity. Furthermore, the 2014 ‘Future of Work’ report published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skill showed that 92 percent of Generation Y participants (those born in the 80s and 90s) identified flexibility as a top priority when selecting a workplace.

Yet according to the NABS research, only a third of parents believe their employer definitely recognises and supports them in helping to balance their work with their parental responsibilities. This is despite the fact that 89 percent of parents and 69 percent of non-parents believe working mums and dads provide a positive contribution to the advertising and media industry.

Diana Tickell, CEO of NABS, said: “Working parents form an integral part of every business, whether in the advertising industry, in SMEs or in large organisations. But it seems we have yet to truly appreciate the value that working parents can bring and find the best ways of supporting them.

“The UK needs to be better at adopting flexible working practices, training line managers to deal with parents effectively, and acknowledging the cultural and generational changes in parenting roles. We have to manage the fact that many mothers are choosing to work more and fathers want to become more involved in parenting.

“We want to see culture-changing initiatives that benefit parents and businesses alike, such as creating working-parent communities.”

The NABS survey also found that very few managers (6 percent) had been given specific training on how to manage and support parents in their teams and almost a third (32 percent) of parents didn’t take their full entitlement of maternity or paternity leave. In fact, only seven out of the 600 respondents had taken up the opportunity for shared parental leave following the legislation introduced last year.

It further found that 73 percent of working parents believe that they are not spending enough time with their children, and managing workloads (48 percent) was cited by parents as being the biggest pressure they face.

Karen Blackett, NABS’ new President, added: “The evidence for supporting working parents is clear. By improving the wellbeing of mums and dads, we’ll have a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. It also offers businesses a real financial advantage and a tangible competitive edge in attracting and retaining the best talent.”

Robert joined the HRreview editorial team in October 2015. After graduating from the University of Salford in 2009 with a BA in Politics, Robert has spent several years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past he has been part of editorial teams at Flux Magazine, Mondo*Arc Magazine and The Marine Professional.