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As a society we are busier than ever – add being a working parent into the mix and the juggle is a daily challenge, for some this has no end in sight. So how do we reduce the stress and busyness to manage and enjoy our family and work life more?

Recently Parents At Work founder Emma Walsh was joined by David James, CEO of Juggle Street – the social network bringing neighbours (and busy parents) together to help make juggling life that little bit easier. David and Emma discussed via Webinar the topic Struggling with Juggling and explored a recent working parent productivity study which revealed some astounding statistics. The stand out one being that it costs the Australian economy an estimated $24 billion per annum from parents stressing and dealing with family issues at work.

Some of the other key take-outs from the study were:

  • There is an accelerated trend for both parents to work. More women are returning to work than ever. It may be as high as 75% by the next ABS census. Workplaces and education establishments are struggling to keep up with this.
  • Most workplaces aren’t acknowledging the productivity loss and most of the loss (80%) isn’t obviously visible.
  • Over 63% reported loosing out on over $10,000 lost earnings over the last year because of commitments to family. Also, the career pain is being felt by the younger working parent generation.
  • People working over 50 hours – are taking 3 x more time dealing with family and it’s having 3 x greater impact on their work and productivity. Pushing yourself to work more isn’t necessarily getting the result anyone desires.
  • Nearly half of men and women said they would take a job with less money if it were more family friendly and flexible. What’s more 25% of men are feeling trapped in their workplace – they want to move jobs for more family flexible work but feel they can’t.
What can individuals do to balance work life balance?

Connect with your village. Using your network – a team – to support you. Address it as a logistical challenge, as a work project of sorts. Look at who is in our network and how well are you are working with that network. Ask how you can collaborate and support others too. For example, actively seek other parents who may be open to swap pick-ups. Putting time in beyond the ‘welcome BBQ’ at the beginning of the year isn’t going to cut it. To build trusting relationships you need to spend time engaging with your school, social and family networks.

Remember we are not failures if we need help – it does not mean we are not coping. It’s normal to need help, normal to ask and normal to receive it. If we are constantly trying to ‘hold it all altogether’ then we stop transparency – our communities and workplaces don’t appreciate and understand what’s needed and we prevent the change that’s needed. Faking it till we’re making is not working – the only way to change our education and workplace structure is to start talking about it and bring the issues like productivity loss to the fore.

What can organisations do to support working parents be more productive?

Set the tone from the top – put policies and procedures in place – and lead these from the top so that people truly believe what’s on paper. Unless the CEO leads by example things won’t change. Flexibility doesn’t just relate to employees with kids – we need to offer it to everyone.

There is a difference in how employers and employees view flexibility. One of the greatest challenges is to be more innovative about how we create more flexibility in the workplace.

If your leadership team doesn’t get it we need to take some action as individuals – be prepared to speak up and take responsibility to create the change. Present examples of where it has worked and what options are available and provide evidence to support your case. Start the conversation.

If you would like a copy of the full audio recording contact us here.

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