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05 Jul 2024
by Jennifer Liston-Smith

The vital role family support plays in business productivity and employee wellbeing

Family-inclusive employers have stronger brands, better productivity and wellbeing, and can help redress gender imbalance

The vital role family support plays in business productivity and employee wellbeing Main.jpg


Family supports provided by employers directly lead to increased productivity and less stress in the workplace, according to a survey conducted by Bright Horizons earlier this year.

The Work+Family Snapshot found that family supports enable office attendance and are part of the infrastructure needed for work, whether onsite or remote. 

It offered offered 4 key insights: 

  • Family-inclusive employers gain better productivity, performance and wellbeing in their employees as well as stronger employer brand.
  • Care provision keeps work sustainable during care disruption, return to office and life events: and particularly that back-up care and ongoing nursery provision bridge the gaps.
  • Family supports level the playing field and redress gender imbalances.
  • There is a notable variation in the way different generations need and use family benefits.

Key early years sector

The Department for Education (DfE) has estimated the early years workforce needs to grow by about 40,000 between now and September 2025, a 12% increase compared to July 2023, to meet the demand for funded childcare places. It said that by September 2024, early year providers will have to create 15,500 more new places nationally. This rises sharply by September 2025 to 84,500, with a fifth of local authorities having to increase the supply of hours by 20% or more.

With this need in mind, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is calling for the DfE to develop urgently a series of interim milestones to provide assurance to Parliament that the expansion is on track, and set out contingency plans, among other measures.

From the point of view of employers, the early years sector plays a key role in the infrastructure needed for work to take place. Tying in with the new findings of the Royal Foundation Business Taskforce set out below, BusinessLDN and KPMG said earlier this year: “Our analysis models the potential gains of increasing the labour supply among economically inactive mothers with children under the age of 5. It shows that increasing employment by 62,000 to 250,000 people in this group could increase annual GDP by between £2.8bn and £11.3bn in 2024.”

Taskforce underlines role of employers in early years

The Royal Foundation Business Taskforce report, Prioritising early childhood for a happier healthier society, identified five areas in which businesses can contribute. It details how investing in early childhood could generate at least £45.5 billion in value added for the national economy each year. This includes “£12.2bn from equipping people with improved social and emotional skills in early childhood, £16.1bn from reducing the need to spend public funds on remedial steps for adverse childhood experiences and £17.2bn from supporting parents and caregivers of under-fives who work”.

It sets out five areas where businesses could have an impact: 
1.    Building a culture that prioritises early childhood within businesses, local communities, and wider society.
2.    Helping families facing the greatest challenges access the basic support and essentials they need.
3.    Offering parents and carers greater support, resources, choice, and flexibility with their work.
4.    Prioritising and nurturing social and emotional skills in young children and the adults in their lives.
5.    Supporting initiatives which increase access to quality, affordable and reliable early childhood education and care.

The work of Bright Horizons is at the centre of enabling these aims both through our early education programmes and our work with leading employers.

As the Taskforce members said: “If we get this right, the results for business, for the economy and for society are clear for all to see: a happier, more productive workforce today; a future workforce equipped with the skills needed to deal with all the complexity and challenges of the modern world, and £45.5 billion in value added for the national economy each year.

"As leaders of some of the UK’s largest businesses, we have a responsibility, but also a very clear vested interest, in driving change in this area. We hope this report will encourage businesses of all sizes, across the UK, to join us and help build a healthy, happy society for everyone,” it concluded.

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