University of Phoenix Scholar Examines the Negative Impact of COVID-19 on Work-Life Balance
A new whitepaper from a research scholar at University of Phoenix shines a light on the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of working parents, members of the military and veterans. The paper, which draws data from the University’s Career Optimism Index™ Study, was written by Melissa K. Shank, Ed.D., a fellow in residence with the University of Phoenix’s Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research (CEITR).
It aims to serve as a guide for industry leaders to better understand how the pandemic is shifting the work-life balance for these groups in a negative direction and how employers can better support these groups to help them restore that balance. Restoring work-life balance is essential to health, Shank wrote in the paper, finding in her research that “chronic or long-term stress can interfere with daily life resulting in physical and mental health symptoms such as a weakened immune response, increased risk of heart attack and increased depression and anxiety.”
How Work-Life Balance Has Lost Its Balance for American Parents, Military and Veterans During COVID-19
Shank stressed that work-life balance is not about people giving an equal amount of time to family needs, career and personal pursuits but rather about finding a balance of time allocation that best serves the needs of them and their ambitions while allowing them to thrive. Ideally, she wrote, people should have an optimum level of well-being in different key aspects of their lives including career, social, community, health, and finances. Overall, this can help them “like what they do and where they live, can manage their money and energy, and can have meaningful relationships.”
Her paper found that working parents, military and reserve workers and veterans reported higher rates of the pandemic negatively impacting their work-life balance than the general population. Among those groups, military workers reported the highest rates of negative impact: 68 percent reported a negative impact compared to 61 percent of working parents and 51 percent of the general population.
For many workers, the move to remote work created an expectation that workers always needed to be connected and available, and they could no longer leave work and the office at the end of the day. For working parents, the COVID-19 pandemic created a crisis around childcare and remote schooling that forced them to juggle working from home with full-time parenting and teaching responsibilities.
Working mothers were twice as likely to feel burdened with child care responsibilities during the pandemic, the paper reported, and to have difficulties managing the virtual schooling, child care needs and work tasks. And working mothers were also more likely to work in industries most affected by the pandemic and to lose their jobs, adding to their stress.
Lessons on Struggling Workers from the University of Phoenix Career Optimism Index
Looking at the paper’s findings from the University of Phoenix Career Optimism Index, it’s clear that American working parents, military members and veterans felt hindered in their career aspirations. Common issues were a lack of skills needed to advance, lack of career development opportunities, mental health challenges, lack of networking opportunities and difficulty maintaining health and fitness. Working parents in particular pointed to lack of time and scheduling concerns that were holding them back in their careers.
All of these are issues that can be addressed by employers whether by providing employees with greater flexibility, skill-building opportunities, support for professional development, or employee wellness challenges by having Zevo Health wellness programmes. University of Phoenix offers a number of skill-building opportunities through its professional development courses and tracks in IT, marketing, healthcare and education. All are self-directed, online, non-credit and take about 30 hours to complete per course.
“When balance is attained between work and home pursuits, the results are happier and more productive workers,” Shank said. “This study provides a closer look at the data points that can help employers better understand their employees’ challenges and make changes to support these hard-working populations in achieving much-needed balance.”
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is committed to advancing the educational goals of adult and nontraditional learners and to helping students navigate the career options that best suit their interests. The University’s degree programs are aligned with numerous in-demand career paths including in computer software, nursing and business. Each provides flexible start dates, online classes, and numerous scholarship opportunities to make it possible for anyone to get the degree they desire. In addition, University of Phoenix’s Career Services for Life® commitment to active students and alumni provides the resources needed to be competitive in the workforce for no additional charge. These services include resume and interview support, career guidance, education and networking opportunities. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.