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Fronting

Pretend. It’s what a lot of working parents are playing right now.

Working parents are stressed at levels previously unimaginable. They are on the front lines of remote work, confined to their homes, and are working sunrise to sunset, while simultaneously caring for and educating their children without the aid of childcare. While the stress is obvious and expected, working parents are loath to admit to their employers that they feel defeated and need help. So pretend is what they play—with their children, with their co-workers and certainly with their bosses.

In a survey conducted by MommaWork, more than 85% of employees reported feeling the need to “front” to their employers, depicting that they have this whole “work-from-home-with-kids-around-thing” dialed in.

Reality? They don’t. But who could blame them for pretending? The economy is in shambles, unemployment rates are soaring, and everyone understands that their job is (or might be) on the line. Instead of admitting they are fraught with the struggle and juggle of working parenthood, employees are fronting because they fear being judged as inadequate and unable to perform under the circumstances.

Right now, no one is willing to raise their hand, admit setback and ask for more help and support, yet the cost of remaining silent is inordinate – especially to the employer. Laura Sherbin, Ph.D., managing director and economist for [email protected], reports the cost of disengagement to be 34% of a person’s salary. Running the numbers, Dr. Sherbin calculates a loss of $341.5 billion in the US, based upon 31 million working moms making, on average, $40,000. For businesses to be successful right now, employers need to call a spade a spade. Working parents need help.

For their own benefit, employers need to be proactive about acknowledging the struggles of working parents and provide the help and support working parents so desperately need. While employees may not be asking for the help, they certainly need it. A recent survey of more than 500 working moms found 81% of respondents are less engaged at work due to the COVID-19 crisis, over half (55%) of respondents are unable to engage effectively at work due to the anxiety and/or stress of COVID-19, and more than a third (36%) of respondents pointed to family pressures as the main culprit.

We need to stop waiting for working parents to ask for help, and assuming that if they don’t reach out with employee admissions of feeling overwhelmed, they’re doing just fine. Employers need to take-charge, and proactively provide more support to their working parents. After all, happy and supported employees are 12% more productive, while unhappy workers are 10% less productive—that’s a 22% swing!

Beyond the immediate economic gain, supporting employees now will yield many dividends in terms of loyalty and retention for years to come. How employers treat their employees today will provide a competitive edge for tomorrow. Invest in your employees, and they will invest in you. That’s a win all around, and right now, we have to take every win we can. 


To provide your working parents with the support they need most, contact MommaWork.  Through the month of April, MommaWork is offering free 30-minute team coaching sessions tailored to meet the unique challenges facing your organization and/or workforce. Let us lend a helping hand and help your company increase work from home productivity. MommaWork understands we are in this together.

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