Executive Summary / Introduction
Equal Lives reveals that men and women have very similar attitudes and desires in relation to balancing work and caring responsibilities.
During 2018, over 10,000 employees told us about their experiences, attitudes and aspirations in relation to balancing professional employment with personal caring responsibilities for both children and adults. Equal Lives shows that caring responsibilities outside of work impacts how engaged employees are at work, their ability to progress and impetus to leave, as well as relationships within teams at work. It suggests that if employers are to create healthy and productive workplace cultures they will need to recognise individual employee needs and aspirations outside of work; taking steps to reduce the gap between their employees’ attitudes and the reality of day-to-day organisational behaviours. Currently, in the UK, nine in ten households with dependent children have working parents.
Helping parents to combine caring and work – in jobs that match their skills – is seen by HM Treasury as key to long-term UK productivity.
Caring for dependent adults presents different challenges than caring for children – with carers often citing the additional unpredictability posed by a variety of social, physical, medical or other needs.
The research findings are presented in two parts, followed by a set of recommendations for employers and the Government. The first section summarises what we have learnt about attitudes to caring and the reality of how this manifests itself for both men and women in the workplace in terms of stress, engagement levels and intention to leave – in short, why employers should care about caring. The second section looks in more detail at organisational cultures and behaviours as well as how key policies such as Flexible Working rights and Shared Parental Leave can be most effectively implemented. The research also offers insights into practical steps that organisations can take.
Finally, there are lessons within the findings for both employers and Government which are summarised as recommendations. There is much that both can do; proactively promoting policies, providing training and support for line managers, and updating and amending legislation.