Single parents and the workforce

Originally posted June 25, 2017.

Faster technology. Innovation. Better benefits. Better onboarding for new employees. Universal pre-K. Employee motivation.

All of these are common topics in Human Resources and management in the workforce today. All of these are great discussion topics on how to improve employee retention and develop a happier, more efficient employee base.

But there is an enormous change affecting the employment picture that few of us talk about: the growing number of single-parent households.

More than 1 in 3 children now are living in homes with a single parent. About 5 percent of children are living in homes with no parents. In other words, 39 percent of children are living in a home with a single parent or no parent at home, according to a Pew Research Center study.

Here is a chart provided by the Pew Research Center:


That’s a major difference compared to 1960, when a combined 13 percent of children lived in a home with a single parent or no parent at home.

Some may say that this will make it harder on future generations, because children are best raised by both a father and a mother. That’s a good point.

But this has an even more immediate impact. It’s simply harder for an employee to get to work if he or she is the sole or primary caregiver for the child. Employers may have a hard time understanding or empathizing with an employee who constantly gets to work late or misses due to being unable to afford childcare.

In most instances, it is more likely that the employee will have a hard time advancing in his or her career. Therefore it’s more likely that the employee will be making a salary that’s lower than average and thus is usually unable to afford childcare.

A dual-income family or a family with a primary breadwinner and primary caregiver will likely have a harder time understanding these challenges.

And at this point, if you are part of a traditional family (i.e. one in which two children are living with both of their birth parents), you may think that your life is the norm.

But if you think that, you’re incorrect.

According to the Pew Research Center, study, now less than half of families (46%) are in that scenario, compared to 73% in 1960.

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