Released On 2nd Jul 2016
Results from our Cityparents survey
How are things changing for parents and professionals working in the 'City'? Is it getting easier or harder to pursue a City career without sacrificing a meaningful home life? Today we're publishing the initial findings from our recent annual survey of over 1,000 Cityparents members.
Our new Cityparents Index measures levels of satisfaction and support experienced by professionals working in ‘City’ careers
For the first time, we’ve established a quantitative index to measure whether people are reporting a positive experience of work across different ‘City’ professions. Cityparents members (including parents and professionals without children) were invited to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with 6 positively worded statements about work life balance, career progression, support from employers and line managers and organisational culture. This Index, which we will repeat each year, provides a unique benchmark of changing experiences and attitudes across the City.
Our Index tells us that almost half of all those surveyed report a positive experience, twice as many as those reporting a negative experience
The Cityparents Index score this year is 49% - meaning on average, 49% of all participants responded favourably across all 6 positive statements. 25% responded unfavourably (i.e. disagreed) and the remaining 24% responded in neutral terms.
Encouragingly, 3 in 5 respondents say that the work culture in their organisation is becoming more supportive towards employees. And among parents, step-parents and carers, a similar number say they receive adequate support from their immediate line manager to help them balance their work and parenting/caring responsibilities. Over half of parents identifying as LGBT said their place of work offers an inclusive environment and appropriate support. And the majority of parents who have sick children or children with special needs say they receive a degree of understanding or support from their employer.
However, there is still much room for improvement, particularly for specific groups of people
Looking at the wider context, only 1/3rd of all respondents rate their experience of managing a ‘City’ career and their responsibilities outside of work as either ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ (just 5% for the latter). Single parents and employees with caring responsibilities for others (excluding children) in particular tend to feel inadequately supported. 1 in 5 professionals report having experienced mental illness at some point in their City career, with over half of these saying they have not received enough support from their employer to help them be open about their illness and manage in their role.
Among parents, flexible working is now more common particularly for fathers, but for the majority, this comes at the expense of their career progression
Three quarters of Citymothers in our survey have a flexible working arrangement in place and for the first time, just over half of Cityfathers do too. However, 1 in 5 Cityfathers still report that they feel unable to request a flexible working arrangement, often due an unsupportive work culture or the fear of being perceived as ‘uncommitted’.
An increasing number of men and women (including parents and professionals without children) fear that working flexibly will have a negative impact on their career progression. Over 2/3rds of flexible workers believe their career goals will either take longer to achieve, or will not be achievable at all, up 7% on last year. This is more frequently reported by Citymothers (71%) however it is a growing trend among men with 50% of Cityfathers now saying the same, up 9% since last year.
A ‘City’ career still comes at significant personal cost for many
For City professionals, the biggest challenge is still ‘establishing a work/life balance’ (84% of respondents, up 5%). On average, only 5% rate their worklife balance as ideal, a very slight improvement since last year. Responses show little variation across men & women, having worsened slightly among Cityfathers since our June 2015 survey. Only 27% of all respondents feel confident they can progress their career at their current employer without making unsustainable sacrifices in their personal/family life.
On balance, the majority of working parents felt able to take their parental leave entitlement but a greater number of returnees described their employer’s approach to managing their transition back into work as ‘neutral ‘ or ‘negative’, compared to the number stating it was ‘positive’. As last year, fathers tend to be more in favour than mothers of sharing parental leave, however the overall figure saying ‘yes’ has noticeably declined to just over 1/3rd, with pay being an increasing concern for the majority.
Employees are clear about the support they would like to receive from employers
Overall, 41% want more support to progress their careers. Another 32% want more flexible working to be offered – this is up 9% on last year and is being driven by increased demand from men (41% of Cityfathers vs 25% last year).
Employees also want to see a higher priority placed on health and wellbeing, through leaders setting a positive example around ‘switching off’, discouraging presenteeism and taking breaks during the long working day to eat healthily and get fresh air or exercise.
In the current turbulent political context, City businesses need to build on the progress made to date to ensure their employees remain resilient and committed
It is encouraging to see signs of a shift towards a more supportive work culture across ‘City’ organisations. Greater availability of flexible working arrangements is undoubtedly contributing to this, along with increasing examples of workplace policies designed to support parents and other employee groups. Yet too often, City professionals and parents still feel they have to sacrifice a meaningful home life in the interests of maintaining their career and those facing additional responsibilities or difficulties in their home life or health feel they receive insufficient understanding or support at work.
Following the outcome of the recent EU referendum, there is uncertainty ahead for City employers and professionals alike. Whilst this will undoubtedly result in change and an unknown degree of upheaval, it also offers an opportunity for employers to review the support available to employees and to continue to strengthen their working practices in order to collectively build greater resilience and commitment in the coming months.
This Survey of Cityparents members working in ‘City’ professions was conducted from 20-28 June 2016. It reflects the views of 1,099 respondents.