Chamber Survey Highlights Impact of Workforce Productivity Due to Child Care Demands

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Businesses of all sizes have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations that could operate remotely altered their operations and working parents quickly adjusted to the reality of managing work and child care needs simultaneously. As the school year begins and school districts make decisions on how they will educate students, either through in-person, virtual, or hybrid options, working parents and caregivers now face the challenge of how to manage both work and educational responsibilities.

To understand the impacts this will have on the workforce, the Detroit Regional Chamber surveyed businesses on employee concerns and plans for mitigating child care challenges in the unprecedented reality that is COVID-19. The survey of nearly 100 respondents was conducted on August 5-14, 2020, via an online surveying tool. View full survey findings here or a full summary below.

Key Takeaways

  • 75% of respondents have shifted a significant part of the workforce to remote work.
  • 83% of respondents agree that their organization is aware of the needs of employees with children as the school year approaches.
  • 72% of respondents are concerned some employees at their organization will not fully return to work as the school year begins, due to child care responsibilities.
  • 74% of respondents are concerned with productivity as employees with child care responsibilities adjust to managing work and changes to education due to COVID-19.
  • 40% of respondents stated their organization would be likely to offer additional child care assistance or assistance to employees with school-aged children if the government provided additional incentives.

The Big Picture

Child care and education are top-tier issues for the business community. Without solutions to safely care for and educate the children of working parents, the regional economy will struggle to return to work.


Workforce Shifts

For organizations that are able to shift workforces to remote work, the concerns of working parents are not fully alleviated.  The majority of survey respondents stated that employers have reached out through individual conversations to understand the needs of working parents.  Respondents also overwhelmingly believe that organizations are aware of employees’ needs.

  • 75% of respondents have shifted a significant part of the workforce to remote work.
  • 83% of respondents agree that their organization is aware of the needs of employees with children as the school year approaches.
  • 58% of respondents report that individual conversations are the most common way employers are reaching out to employees regarding back to school.
  • 33% of employers have not taken any action to engage staff with school-age children regarding back to school needs.

“We’re a small company so we have felt the loss of capacity from shortened work schedules by some staff already.  We are limited on what we can do to directly address child care challenges for our staff.  We plan to have more discussions with employees but mostly what we can offer are ideas,” said a survey respondent.


Additional Child Care Assistance

The ways in which organizations have adjusted in light of COVID-19 have varied, and while remote work and flexible working times have provided some relief for working parents, challenges remain.  A small share of respondents stated that their employer has provided child care-related support either through subsidies (7%), on-site care (7%), or partnerships with other providers (1%). Government subsidies are the highest share (40%) of conditions in which organizations would likely offer additional child care assistance.

  • 71% of respondents report employers have provided flexible working hours to support employees with children in light of COVID-19.
  • 82% of employers have provided work from home options to support employees with children.
  • 40% of respondents stated their organization would be likely to offer additional child care assistance or assistance to employees with school-aged children if the government provided additional incentives.
  • 31% of respondents are not likely to offer additional child care assistance to employees with school-aged children.

“Although we offer flexible schedules, we have heard feedback from employees about ongoing challenges with working and finding time to care for and teach children,” said a survey respondent.


Concerns About Future Workforce

Nearly three-quarters of respondents are concerned some employees will not fully return to work as the school year begins.  The reality of working full time remotely while managing the needs of children is reaching a tipping point as the fall school year approaches.  Working from home has provided relief during the emerging months of the pandemic, however, the majority of respondents (56%) stated they are concerned that some employees will leave the workforce entirely as the school year begins due to child care responsibilities.

  • 72% of respondents are concerned some employees at their organization will not fully return to work as the school year begins, due to child care responsibilities.
  • 56% of respondents are concerned some employees at their organization will leave the workforce entirely as the school year begins due to child care responsibilities.

“Employers are struggling to survive and now may lose a trained staff. It is a challenge and could be the tipping point for some organizations,” said a survey respondent.


Productivity Concerns Balancing Work and child care Responsibilities

 Employers have been addressing the needs to balance the safety of their workforces, the legislative directives on operations, and the productivity and survival of their businesses.  While many of the concerns with remote work have been limited, with many organizations maintaining operations while physically not in their previous workspaces, the ability to maintain this new work environment for the long term is of concern.  The combination of work responsibilities and child care responsibilities could reach new levels of concern as the school year approaches, which could lead to stresses on productivity.

  • 74% of respondents are concerned with productivity as employees with child care responsibilities adjust to managing work and changes to education due to COVID-19, e.g. virtual learning, uncertainty of educational institutions plans, and health and safety concerns.

“I am very concerned with productivity, but not entirely from the perspective of achieving results. I am very concerned my employees are going to maintain the same level of productivity and burn themselves out. In the long-term that is not good for my organization or employees,” said a survey respondent.


Survey Methodology and Respondent Demographics

The Detroit Regional Chamber conducted an online survey of businesses in the Detroit region. The total sample included 90 responses across industry, number of employees and revenue.  The survey was fielded August 5-14, 2020. View full survey findings here.

Employee Count (N=90)

2-9 10-49 50-99 100-499 500+
24% 33% 11% 17% 14%

Annual Revenue (N=90)

Under $100K $100K-$999K $1M-$9M $10M-$49M $50M-$500M Over $500M Unknown
7% 19% 24% 13% 16% 11% 10%

Essential Service (N=90)

Essential Non-essential
60% 40%

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