Gasp! Juggling work and family is costing Australia a whopping $24 billion...

Gasp! Juggling work and family is costing Australia a whopping $24 billion a year

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A landmark study of working mums and dads in Australia has revealed that lost productivity costs a whopping $23.92 billion per annum.

The report, commissioned by online babysitting and nanny service Juggle Street and conducted in January 2016 by leading market research firm Pureprofile, found that thinking and stressing about juggling family issues while at work cost $12.64 billion.

Planning and dealing with family issues at work cost $5.68 billion, arriving later and/or leaving early from work due to family issues $2.44 billion and carer and ‘sickie’ days due to family issues $3.15 billion.

The research comprised 1000 people across the nation equally split between men and women with at least one child aged 12 years or younger, where both parents (and single parents) worked.

What did this Juggle Street study reveal?

The study found that 53 per cent of young parents felt they had been overlooked for a work promotion or unable to take on new responsibilities due to child-related commitments. This cohort of 18 to 34 year old parents fared worse when compared with their older counterparts (aged 35 and above) at 35 per cent.

More than 70 per cent of parents took up to 10 days ‘carer’s leave’ in the past 12 months, in fake sickies or official carer’s leave, to deal with a child-related issues.

A majority of parents working more than 50 hours per week felt their current employer was not “family friendly or flexible”. They also spent more time thinking or stressing about and dealing with child-related responsibilities compared with those who worked fewer hours in the week.

Nearly 50 per cent of respondents said they would opt for slightly lower pay in a new job if it were more family friendly or flexible.

63 per cent of participants said they had missed out on at least $10,000 in lost earnings over the past year due to managing their children’s needs, and 11 per cent said they missed out on $50,000 or more.

The research found that while women generally worked less than men, they spent more time thinking or stressing about and dealing with their children’s needs at work. But men more than women found this had a greater impact on their productivity at work.

18 per cent of women spent more than 6 hours per week thinking or stressing about child-related responsibilities while they were at work, compared with 10 per cent of men.

Is this a symptom of a bigger problem?

“It’s no secret that working and trying to raise a family is a huge balancing act, but unfortunately it has become the norm for the majority of Australian families,” Juggle Street chief juggler David James said.

“People are continually battling with the challenges of raising a happy, healthy family while trying to manage their career. At the same time, they’re saying that work-life balance was more important than dollars and cents.

“But they don’t have to suffer in silence as new technology and a growing sense of community can help them find that middle ground and achieve the best outcome for themselves and their kids.” 

The survey findings follow revelations that after-school care has become parents’ biggest pain point.

Recent media reports claimed that hundreds of children in Sydney’s inner west were left without after-school child care when the state government failed to approve a suitable provider. Demand for childcare in Sydney’s CBD far outstrips supply by more than 3000 places, according to a 2013 report.

“This is further evidence that parents aren’t getting the support they deserve and this situation won’t change any time soon,” James remarked. “No person is an island so we encourage parents to seek local, trusted help to ease their load in caring for their children.”

Juggle Street is a social network bringing neighbours together, a place where every little job helps de-stress our busy lives. When parents have completed their profiles they can post jobs to local Helpers (babysitting, nannying, after-school care) and get recommendations from nearby Juggle Street families. Once Helpers have completed their profiles they can connect with local families and receive job alerts on their mobile phones via SMS.

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