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Back-to-School Season Spells Stress for Working Parents

Sept. 5, 2012
Employees with school-aged children may struggle with stress and work-life balance issues when back-to-school season rolls around, a new poll suggests.

School is in session, which means that busy parents should be able to breathe a sigh of relief, right? Think again. According to a recent poll, the new school year may be a source of stress for working parents – stress that could impact their productivity at work.

“It is not uncommon for personal stress and pressures to make their way into the workplace,” said Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options, which commissioned the poll. “Back-to-school preparations can put an emotional and financial strain on employees, and often alters work schedules, priorities and productivity. A lot of companies are beginning to understand these needs and take a proactive stance to help employees manage these pressures effectively.”

The poll results suggest that employees with grade school or college-aged children experience financial and personal stress from back-to-school preparations, which subsequently impact their productivity and personal work-life balance. For example, managing the hours between the end of the school day and the end of the workday – and finding childcare for that time – in particular can affect parents’ productivity at work.

Key findings from the poll include:

  • 35 percent of respondents expect back-to-school preparations to produce additional financial or personal stress in their own lives.
  • 63 percent of workers noticed that the start of a new school year adds stress to coworkers who are working parents.
  • One in four respondents reported that the start of a new school year negatively affected the moods, attitudes or schedule availability of their coworkers.
  • 46 percent said that the start of school impacted the productivity of their colleagues with school or college-aged children.

According to Workplace Options, employers and workers alike may benefit if employees are granted the flexibility to handle their childcare options by making arrangements to leave work early or spend more time on the phone with children or babysitters.

“[I]f employers provide the tools these individuals need to do their job effectively and manage the needs of their family, then both parties win,” Debnam explained.

The national survey polled 427 working Americans in July and was conducted by Public Policy Polling.

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