33% of business regard childcare as a key issue in recruiting and retaining staff, according to a report from the British Chambers of Commerce (13/11/16). The survey of more than 1600 business leaders across the UK also found 28% of firms have seen a reduction of working hours by staff due to the high cost of childcare and nearly 1 in 10 of employees have left the business because of it.
Jessica Chivers, founder of The talent Keeper Specialists joined BBC Breakfast and Radio Five Live, to discuss the report and offer a way forward. Jessica made three key points:
- It shouldn’t cost anyone to go to work – we need Government to provide help working parents with the cost of childcare up to age 12. Working families can be paying hundreds of pounds a month in breakfast club fees, after school club costs and other wrap around care.
- Men and women are affected by childcare costs – this isn’t just a ‘women’s issue.’
- Flexibility pays – it’s in businesses’ interests to make a shift towards greater flexibility and quality part-time roles as both are majors lever for alleviating some of the burden of childcare costs. In other recent research flexibility was cited as the biggest ‘employee benefit’ consideration when taking a new job by both men (80%) and women (82%).
Jessica also discussed the very real problem of employees going ‘stale’ in jobs they have outgrown because they become trapped in a role that accommodates their external commitments. Jessica explains: “If you have negotiated working arrangements that allow you to deliver for the organisation whilst still meeting caring commitments it’s difficult to give that up to move to a new role externally, and in some cases, internally. Employees often feel they need to prove their commitment before asking for flexible working arrangements. So they choose to stay in roles they’ve outgrown because moving into a new role and proving themselves for six months or so before asking for flexibility would have too much of a negative impact on family life.”
The answer, says Jessica, is to move to a culture that focuses on output and educates line managers about the benefits of a flexible approach. “Flexible working is a business tool that should be available to everyone, it’s not just for mothers of primary school children.”
The Talent Keeper Specialists
The Talent Keeper Specialists work with employers to hit gender targets, tap into hidden talent pools and get the best out of employees returning to your business after a break. We do this through high impact boardroom conversations, line manager workshops, the design and deliver of returner programmes and strengths-focused one to one coaching and seminars for staff.
 The UK Government currently provides:
- funding of 15 hours a week of free childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds for 38 weeks of the year
- funding of 12 hours a week of free childcare for all disadvantaged 2 year olds
Legislation being introduced to Parliament will increase free childcare to 30 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds of working families during term-time.
 Report by My Family Care and Hydrogen, published 19th October 2016 which survey 2500 employees http://flexibleworkingreport.com/