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06 Jun 2024
by Jennifer Liston-Smith

US Modern Family Index urges employers to listen and act

Research from working parents in America finds that a good work/life balance is becoming non-negotiable

US Modern Family Index urges employers to listen and act.jpg


Bright Horizons has run a UK Modern Families Index since 2012, our US colleagues are now marking their 10th anniversary with the launch of their 2024 Modern Family Index (MFI). 

More than two-thirds (70%) of more than 2,000 US parents surveyed say working for a company that has benefits to support work/life balance is “non-negotiable”. What does that mean? Strikingly, they value onsite childcare above unlimited remote working.

As Stephen Kramer CEO of Bright Horizons commented in Fortune: “There has been a fundamental shift in employees’ expectations of their employers… Employees 10 years ago felt like they were simply workers to their employers. Today, they really believe that employers should be supporting their careers, but at the same time support their families in order for them to be most successful.”

Contrasted with 2014, nearly eight in 10 (78%) are more comfortable speaking up about family-related responsibilities with their employer than they used to be, and just 24% of parents surveyed say they would be “nervous to tell their bosses they have to miss a work event to make a family commitment”, compared to 39% in 2014.

There is optimism too. Many US working parents (44%) anticipate that the workplace will get better over the next decade and hope for specific improvements including: 

  • schedule flexibility (65%) 
  • better quality benefits (57%) 
  • a work environment sensitive to their work/life balance needs (44%) 
  • more childcare supports (35%).

Talent retention is still a worry

A key message in the US 2024 MFI data is that parents are “poised to quit [their] jobs if [their] boss doesn’t step up”. Our UK MFI report carried a similar warning, with 42% expecting to look for new work in 2024 and a 4-percentage point rise since 2023 being attributable to women in particular.

This trend echoed wider research findings. HR software provider Ciphr’s study of 300 HR decision-makers across the UK showed that retaining skilled employees was chief among challenges for 51%. Top concerns included their ability to meet employee expectations around wages, work-life balance, and mental health support.

The Work+Family Snapshot

After the Modern Families Index, our next important UK research release is our Work+Family Snapshot 2024. This research surveys clients’ employees to highlight trends, needs and any challenges they experience as employees, parents and carers and understand more about their evolving family support expectations.

We will discuss the data further in a client briefing later in the month, and at our June Heads of Family Networks knowledge exchange for clients. It will also provide rich material for our next round of client peer council meetings in the Autumn.

In partnership with Bright Horizons Work+Family Solutions

Bright Horizons is dedicated to providing the best in class work+family solutions.

Contact us today