As the pandemic’s effects are felt in a myriad of ways, one that is drawing attention is the issue of how employers are having to deal with childcare issues.
"Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has forced employers to change how they operate," said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in a press statement. "As 2020 draws to a close, employers are still unsure about how to navigate this new business and talent landscape, and how to best support the childcare needs of their employees."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, on Nov 19, released a report "Piecing Together Solutions: Employer Childcare Assistance Now and Looking Ahead," which examines how employers have supported employees with young children while experiencing employee turnover and the future of their investment in childcare.
The report shows that, while most employers feel they are aware and supportive of the childcare needs of their employees, they underestimated the number of workers who would leave the workforce due to COVID-19.
In June of this year, 24% of employers were concerned that some of their employees would leave the workforce because of the pandemic, but by October, 32% of employers had lost employees. When asked what factors drove employees' decisions to leave the workforce, half cited childcare concerns.
Additional key findings from the study include:
Due to the impact of the pandemic, many employers are struggling financially to invest in employees' childcare needs. Twenty percent of employers are currently willing to increase their investment in childcare needs. Additionally, 49% of employers would be likely to provide additional childcare assistance if the government offered supplementary incentives. When asked what types of additional childcare assistance they would be willing to provide, employers cited flexible working hours (44%) and remote work (36%).
An overwhelming majority of employers feel that they are aware of their employees’ childcare needs. Eighty-nine percent of employers feel they are aware of the childcare needs of their employees, and most employers gather this information through informal feedback. Of those surveyed, 13% have fielded surveys on the topic and 11 percent have conducted formal feedback sessions.
Most employers feel they provide adequate support to employees with young children. Overall, 71% of employers feel that they provide adequate support for employees with young children. This varies depending on the size of the employer; 77% of employers with between 10 and 49 employees feel that they provide adequate support, compared to 60%of employers with more than 500 employees.
Accompanying the study, the U.S. Chamber Foundation produced a video of conversations with employers discussing how the pandemic has impacted their workforce and changed the way they do business.