Are parents being pushed out of shift work?

It’s a flexible option for working dads, but is it becoming harder to maintain?

working dads shift work


We asked Mike Morini, CEO of WorkForce Software, what he thinks.

“With the rise of remote working, the ability to work from home when a child is sick or work flexible hours to accommodate the school pick-up has meant many parents with office-based jobs are enjoying a new level of work-life balance,” says Morini. “However, this same flexibility is not available to more than 80% of the global workforce – ‘deskless’ workers.

Deskless workers are key members of society, working in our hospitals, schools, stores, and factories. Despite this cohort being necessary to maintain our way of life, many organisations are losing this talent due to a lack of flexibility in shift-based industries, where only 31% of organisations provide their frontline staff with scheduling control.

Whilst most office workers can easily be given the option to work from home with just a laptop and Wi-Fi, it’s not as simple for frontline workers. A healthcare worker can’t step away from a patient or provide patient care from their living room. However, this doesn’t mean that employers shouldn’t look for other ways to provide control and flexibility to shift-based workers – even if it takes a slightly different form. With this in mind, let’s explore the different ways businesses can support shift-based, working parents.

The root of the issue

When addressing the challenges of working parents, it’s important to start where most of their concern lies – childcare. More specifically, who can look after their child and how much it will cost.

In the UK, the costs and lack of childcare provisions are two major reasons why an increasing number of parents are opting to leave full-time employment. In fact, according to the latest research, childcare costs are forcing one in four British parents to give up their job. However, rarely mentioned in the conversation are the further difficulties parents of young children face when it comes to managing childcare around shift work.

The reality is that many employers aren’t supporting staff in this vital area of their working lives, with analysis revealing that almost half (43%) of managers say their company does not offer flexible scheduling for deskless shift workers.

Is smart scheduling technology the solution?

One in five working parents say they don’t receive any type of support from their employer when it comes to helping them manage childcare, and whilst it is not possible for every company to offer on-site childcare (especially in frontline work environments like manufacturing) there are many other ways businesses can lend a helping hand – the easiest and arguably most beneficial being flexible scheduling.

Working parent or not, workers want more control and flexibility in their schedules, often listing it as more important than compensation. While flexible working is enjoyed by most parents who are office-based, those who work in shift base roles often miss out on this benefit due to the complexities of their job.

However, with a modern workforce management system, flexibility for this group can be more easily achieved, allowing them to coordinate personal or work obligations themselves, submit time-off requests, and even have easy access to shift swapping, which becomes vital for shift based workers when they need to take their child to a doctor’s appointment, or clock-off early if the babysitter canceled.

Battling burnout

Employers can support staff that may be experiencing burnout using fatigue management systems. Such systems can monitor hours worked, tasks performed, breaks taken, and time-off scheduled to flag employees that may be at risk of burnout. This can then automatically send real-time notifications to HR teams, to help them stay informed about potential employee wellness issues. This is especially important for shift-based parents, who may pick up extra shifts to support childcare needs but go weeks without being near a member of the HR team to discuss any concerns.

Increasing flexibility for deskless workers will be a significant step toward closing the employee experience gap between deskless and office-based workers, whilst helping working parents to remain productive and take an active role in establishing a work-life balance that aligns with their family’s needs.

Read more:

How to handle your teen’s anxiety

Worldwide report on fathers calls for action on care

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