Working Families Index
The Working Families Index is the most comprehensive study of the experience of work and family life in the UK.
Based on a survey of 2,806 parents and carers in late 2021, it examines finances, working arrangements, managing and sharing childcare, and personal wellbeing – and tracks their development over time.
The Index, sponsored by our partners Talking Talent, builds on 8 years of previous research. It offers new insight into the effect of the societal impact of Covid-19 on working families. Most notably, we see the impact of the pandemic on family finances and access to flexible work. Compared with survey findings from just two years ago, significantly more parents report finding it financially harder to raise a family. This is now a clear trend.
Covid-19 has had a clear negative impact financial security. Younger families, single parents, and lower earners have been hardest hit financially. At the same time, there has been a 15% increase in the number of parents who work flexibly: 70% versus 55% in our research from 2019. This change has been driven largely by the pandemic.
Many employers are now offering flexible working where before it would have been unthinkable.
However, inequalities remain when it comes to both who can access flexible working and opportunities for career progression. Working parents and carers are represented in all walks of life, and every industry. Many of them work in knowledge professions in jobs that can be ‘done from anywhere’. But many are ‘place-based’.
For our society’s keyworkers – doctors, nurses, teachers, nursery workers, those who keep shops open and work in vital trades – working at home is less of an option. Covid may have shifted the dial on home and hybrid working, but true flexibility has never been just about ‘homeworking’. Flexible working can and must work for everyone, not just a few.
What’s clear from the Working Families Index is that some industries and their employees are benefitting more from ‘flex’ than others. As we emerge from the pandemic and millions of families face a cost of living crisis, we shine a spotlight on the needs and interests of working parents to improve their experience of job quality and create fairer, more productive workplaces for all.