Parents are less productive when they feel ‘ashamed’ about childcare eating into their working day, according to a Durham University Business School study.
The research, which involved 200 working parents, considered productivity levels, emotional stability and amount of shame parents felt about their family responsibilities while home working.
It found that those who felt the most shame about looking after their children during work time, and those who had a lower level of emotional stability, were more likely to be less productive in their work generally, compared to those who did not feel ashamed about their family commitments.
Researchers found that the decrease in productivity could be due to the fact that parents viewed work and childcare as being in competition with each other. This often meant that they put less effort into one in order to facilitate an increase in effort for the other.
The study concludes that employers should be doing more to help parents balance their work and home lives, especially as the line between each is becoming blurred while many are working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement.
Assistant professor Dr Yingli Deng said: “Working parents not only experience pressure to exemplify an ‘ideal’ worker role, but they are also expected to engage in intensive parenting practices to raise successful children. And although the roles can complement each other, many find achieving this balance challenging, and therefore end up prioritising childcare as it is deemed more important.
“Organisations can train managers to recognise employees’ shame, and work through those vulnerabilities by helping them to identify ways to proactively bounce back from their self-despair without withdrawing from their work roles.
“Not only this, but organisations can also help employees further by giving them more flexibility to attend to their children’s needs, in exchange for gaining more focused and hardworking employees whilst on the job.”