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Working Parents Are Burnt Out: 5 Ways HR Can Create Work-Life Balance for Employees

A staggering 66% of working parents meet the criteria for parental burnout, which is defined as being so worn out caring for their children they don’t have anything left to give—even if they love their jobs. There is a gender divide in parental burnout that you should consider as well: 68% of working moms say they’re burnt out, compared to 42% of working dads.

And those burnout parents are a retention risk for employers. 64% of working parents are considering a career change as well. How can HR teams support work-life balance for employees who have children to reduce their burnout levels?

Here are five tips to try…

1. Offer Customizable Benefits

“Parent” is not a one-size-fits-all category. The parents in your organization might have newborn babies, teenagers, or kids in between. They might have one child with disabilities or multiple children who participate in a lot of after-school activities. Meeting all of their needs means offering customizable benefits so they can all take advantage of organizational assistance.

The more flexibility and adaptability you can build into your benefits, the better. For example, offering maternity leave is great—but fathers and parents of adoptive children aren’t included, so generous parental leave is a better option. Work-life balance for employees no matter where they are in their journey as parents is critical.

2. Ensure Benefits Extend to the Whole Family

If you’re offering benefits like mental health access or digital wellness apps to employees, that’s wonderful—it shows them you care. But have you extended access to these benefits to the employee’s family as well? That goes the extra mile to let employees know their family life is supported as well as their work responsibilities, and may help them balance work and life with more ease.

3. Give Employees Flexibility

Allowing for flexible work arrangements—in hours worked, where employees work, or both—benefits everyone at your organization. But it makes a special difference to parents who are exhausted from juggling their caretaking and workplace responsibilities.

In fact, parents who can access flexible working policies are much less likely to show symptoms of burnout. Letting them have more autonomy over their schedule and where they work from can help them balance everything on their plates.

You can set up structures like core hours or scheduled in-office collaboration days if that’s necessary for your organization, of course, but allowing as much flexibility as possible is key. And if you’re measuring their performance by the results of their work instead of hours worked (as you should be), you can still get the same results and also hold onto great employees.

4. Provide Childcare Support

One of the biggest reasons parents (especially mothers) leave the workforce is because they can’t find childcare options that are available, affordable, or convenient. If your HR team and organization have the resources, you may be able to advocate for on-site or subsidized childcare options for your employees who are parents.

That’s definitely the best-case scenario, but it’s not realistic for many smaller employers. But there are options for you too! You can ensure employees know about and can take advantage of choices like dependent care flexible savings accounts (FSAs), offering reimbursement for part of childcare costs, or increasing parental leave for new babies or when children fall ill.

5. Create a Supportive Working Environment

Having good work-life balance is challenging when you don’t feel you can bring your whole self to work. HR can work to create a work environment where parents feel supported by their managers and colleagues, instead of having to pretend they don’t have caregiving responsibilities at home.

HR should encourage managers to open discussions about stress, burnout, exhaustion, and workload with all employees but particularly with parents. They should ask parents how they prefer to be supported as well, and those answers can even inform organizational support plans for all caregivers, including parents.

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