As Women Return To The Workforce Post-Covid, Employers Need To Adapt To Changing Needs To Drive Equity

Moms left the workforce in droves during 2020, largely due to Covid-19. In March 2021, almost 1.5  million fewer moms of school-aged kids were actively working than the year before. Women’s participation in the workforce is at levels not seen since the 1980s.

Seattle, WA — September 2021 — The good news: According to a survey of more than 1,800 people conducted by Syndio, the moms (and dads) who plan to work post-Covid are looking forward to it. Whether they are continuing in their current job or re-entering the workforce after a “pandemic leave,” parents of both genders are looking forward to the post-Covid working world as much as people without kids at home. Sixty-nine percent of parents with kids in the house said they are looking forward to it, compared with 67 percent of people without kids at home. Any parent who weathered the last year without childcare and in-person school can imagine why. 

Despite their excitement for work after Covid, parents are pessimistic about their potential in the new normal. Almost one-third (29.9 percent) of parents who intend to work after Covid think they are likely to make less money than they did before. 

That’s likely because parents — and especially women — anticipate continuing to shoulder a heavy burden of childcare and schooling after the pandemic. About half of all parents who intend to go back to work believe their kids’ academic performance declined during Covid (48.3 percent of men; 47  percent of women).  

To compensate for that, those parents are searching for more flexible schedules post-Covid. More than two-thirds (68.5 percent) of parents with kids at home said having a flexible work schedule is more important than it was before Covid, compared with 54.3 percent of those without kids at home. Women with kids were more likely to cite the need, with 70 percent saying a flexible schedule is more important,  compared to 60.7 percent of men with kids. 

Why? The top reason for parents to want a more flexible schedule was productivity, but that was followed closely by caretaking — which was cited more often by women.  

 

Why is a flexible schedule more important than it was before Covid-19? Select all that apply.

(Asked of people who intend to work after Covid and who have children under 18 living with them)

I am more productive w/ a flexible schedule I need to help my children w/ their school work I need to spend more time caring for my children I need to spend more time caring for another family member or friend I have other personal commitments
Men 56% 37.2% 41.9% 15.4% 16.7%
Women 49.4% 42% 46.4% 16.4% 16.9%

Nearly as important to parents with kids at home is flexibility in where they work. Almost two-thirds (63.7 percent) of parents who intend to work after Covid said flexibility in where they work after Covid is more important than it was before, compared with 56.8 percent of people without kids at home. Helping kids with school and/or caring for children was a big factor in parents’ preference.

Why is flexibility in where you work more important than it was before Covid-19? Select the most important reasons.

(Asked of people who have children under 18 at home and who intend to work after Covid)

I am more productive working from home I prefer working from home I want to travel and work from other places I need to help my children w/ their school work I need to spend more time caring for my children I need to spend more time caring for another family member I have other personal commitments I don't want to commute everyday
Men 45.1% 54.5% 25.8% 27% 30% 10.7% 15.9% 26.6%
Women 37.4% 44.1% 23.6% 30.7% 34.3% 9.5% 12.5% 30.7%

But that doesn’t capture the attitudes of the many who AREN’T going back.  

Overall, women with kids at home are less likely to continue in or join the workforce after Covid and are much more likely to work part-time vs. full-time. 

Do you plan to work after Covid?

(Asked of all parents)

Yes, full-time Yes, part-time No, by choice
Men 78% 13.8% 7.4%
Women 63.5% 21.2% 12.7%

It’s clear employers that don’t find ways to create more flexibility — both in terms of schedule and place of work — will be de-prioritizing the needs of working parents, and especially of moms. To continue building equity in companies and overall, we need to support women in the workforce and encourage back those who have left.  

Survey details:

Fielded on Survey Monkey's online panel on May 12-13 of 1,851 respondents aged 21-65

About Syndio

Syndio’s mission is to empower employers to eradicate unlawful pay disparities due to gender, race, and ethnicity and make ongoing compensation decisions that are consistent and equitable. Syndio customers drastically reduce legal risk, saving millions in ongoing remediation and create a positive brand reputation, which helps attract and retain top talent at every level of the business. Syndio is proud to partner with brands who are leading the way in equity and setting the standard for workplace fairness.

Media Relations Contact:
Katie Curnutte
617.640.9765
[email protected]group