Bright Horizons MFI Study Shows Parents Worry Honesty Could Cost Them Their Jobs

Working Parents Continue to Struggle to Manage Work and Family Commitments

WATERTOWN, Mass.--()--Working parents worry that being honest at work about family responsibilities could cost them their jobs, according to the sixth-annual Modern Family Index(MFI), commissioned by Bright Horizons (NYSE:BFAM) and conducted by Kelton Global. The study revealed that not much has changed in the last six years as working parents continue to struggle to manage work and family commitments.

According to the Modern Family Index, 32% of working parents worry about getting fired, 28% worry they will be denied a raise, and 26% feel they will not get a promotion because of family responsibilities.

The survey also showed more working parents today sneak out of work to take care of family responsibilities compared to 2014, with 54% leaving unannounced because of family emergencies, up from 47%, and 47% leaving to take their children to go to the doctor, up from 38%. Moreover, 1 in 4 say they fake sick days to tend to family responsibilities.

What’s more, the number of working parents who are suffering from burnout today (38%) has increased by a third since 2015. For some, never being able to unplug from work is the root cause of their burnout. Many point to the fact that their boss (25%), senior leaders (21%) or peers (16%) expect them to be accessible to tackle work outside of their normal schedule, encroaching on family time and personal responsibilities and obligations.

We think as a society we are progressing in the workplace, but the data from the Modern Family Index tells a different story. It is clear that more progress is needed. Employers need to support working parents and create work environments in which all employees feel comfortable being honest and transparent about their family obligations,” says Bright Horizons Chief Human Resources Officer Maribeth Bearfield. “There are some easy strategies employers can adopt to help alleviate stress, mental load, and burnout and improve workplace culture. Especially in a tight talent market, employers need to be doing as much as they can to attract and retain working parents.”


The cumulative impact of being stretched thin at work and at home, keeping up with the little lies to get by, needing to attend to family responsibilities, and facing disappointment from family members exacerbates the stress working parents feel. With employee burnout at an all-time high, employers may pay the ultimate price if they don’t provide a supportive environment that enables working parents to be successful. According to the survey, employees are willing to walk out the door if things don’t improve, and a significant majority will pull away to manage their burnout.

Bearfield adds, “The collective impact of being stretched thin at work while facing continued disappointment at home is forcing parents to leave their jobs in search of workplaces that are more in tune with modern priorities. It is time for all employers to focus attention on the needs of their workforce or risk being left behind in the war for talent.”

To download the full Sixth Annual Bright Horizons Modern Family Index report, click here.

About the Bright Horizons Modern Family Index
The Sixth Annual Bright Horizons Modern Family Index is an online survey conducted by Kelton Global from November 4 to November 15, 2019. The sample consisted of 2,023 working parents aged 18+, with children under the age of 18 at home. The survey was conducted online and has a margin of error of +/- 2.2%.

About Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons is trusted by families around the world to provide care and education for their children. Operating approximately 1,100 child care centers, Bright Horizons cares for approximately 120,000 children annually in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada and India. Used by more than 1,100 of the world's best employers across industries, Bright Horizons back-up child and elder care, tuition program management, education advising, and student loan repayment programs support employees through every life and career stage, and help people succeed at work and at home. For more information, go to


Kristen Raymaakers

Release Summary

The sixth annual Bright Horizons Modern Family Index shows working parents worry honesty could cost them their jobs.


Kristen Raymaakers