two young parents and baby Whilesome employees want to quit their jobs to take care of their kids,most who have quit to focus on caregiving said they did so becausegetting paid help was too expensive. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Employees say that taking care of kids negatively affects theirwork performance. But most bosses appearoblivious to the problem.

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That's the main takeaway from a report authored by two Harvard BusinessSchool researchers, based on a survey of 301 HR leaders and 1,547employees.

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More than half of the HR leaders polled said that theirorganization has not tried to measure the impact of caregiving on their workforce. Andonly 24 percent said they believed that caregiving “influencedworkers' performance.”

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Related: Caregiving benefits moving toforefront

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Asked what types of behaviors associated with caregiving tend toimpede employees' career progression, 33 percent of HR leaderscited missed days of work, 28 percent cited tardiness and 17percent cited leaving work early.

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Meanwhile, 80 percent of workers said that caregiving did affecttheir productivity.

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The loss of workers due to child-rearing alone clearly has amajor impact on the U.S. workforce. Roughly half of employees aged26 to 35 say they have left a job due to caregivingduties. So have more than a quarter of employees under 26.

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While some employees want to quit their jobs to take care oftheir kids, most who have quit to focus on caregiving (53 percent)said they did so because getting paid help was too expensive. Forty-four percentsaid that they were unable to find “trustworthy” care for theirloved ones and 40 percent said that they were unable to balancework and caregiving responsibilities.

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The report suggests that organizations redesign benefits torelieve caregiving stress for middle or lower-wage workers.Traditionally, the report notes, the best-paid employees also havethe most generous benefits aimed at caregiving. The problem is,those employees may be the ones who are least in need, since theyhave an easier time paying for childcare.

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“Setting benefits based on organizational level may not reflecttoday's skills marketplace—certain middle-skills jobs areextraordinarily hard to fill, even though the associatedcompensation is similar to that received by workers ineasier-to-fill positions,” said the report.

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The study authors also recommended closer collaboration betweenprivate employers and local governments to better understand theneeds of the regional workforce.

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While the report noted that the U.S. remains the onlyindustrialized nation that does not provide workers any guaranteeto paid parental leave, it cautioned employers notto wait until there is a government intervention on the matter:

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“The stakes are too high for employers to await the type ofbroad-based mandates federal legislation is likely to yield. Smartemployers will seize the opportunity to gain an advantage in theincreasingly ferocious war to recruit and retain talent through adeliberate strategy to become a corporate care leader.”

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