VIU researcher investigates how Canadian parents manage pandemic work-family stress

VIU Professor Dr. Laura Gover says some employed parents have found innovative solutions for balancing work and childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. || Photo courtesy of VIU.
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A Vancouver Island University (VIU) professor is researching how employed Canadian parents are coping with work-family demands during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal of the project, “Coping with Work and Childcare during COVID-19,” is to identify why some working parents report lower levels of stress than others.

Gover also hopes the research will answer two important questions: how do employed parents cope effectively with pandemic stressors and what impacts do factors such as job, gender, supports and government policies have on the effectiveness of various coping strategies.

“Understanding the lived experience of these individuals and how they have coped will help us identify what’s working and what’s not,” said Dr. Laura Gover, faculty of management professor. “This can then inform recommendations for families, employers and governments around how best to support this important contingent of the labour force.”

The research builds on the group’s 2021 COVID-19 Employee Well-Being survey, which garnered 20,000 responses. The funding will allow them to interview 100 employed parents who have been forced into emergency teleworking.

At this stage of the research, Gover said she has already discovered many employed parents can see the benefits related to the changes to work and family life that have been brought on by the pandemic.

“It seems that, for many, this change has led them to identify innovative solutions for how to balance work and child care,” she said.

She added the research has also confirmed “it is hard to be a both a parent and an employee. Trying to navigate work and family responsibilities is a major stressor for many employed Canadians.”

Gover received a $50,204 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to support the research. She said receiving the grant demonstrates “that others recognize the value and importance of this research about how employed parents are coping with pandemic-induced stressors and changes to work-life arrangements.”

She received the grant along with two co-applicants: Michael Halinski from Carleton University and Linda Duxbury from Ryerson University.

Gover and her colleagues plan to begin interviews in January, with the goal of having them complete by the summer. Data analysis will be ongoing and knowledge dissemination activities are planned for fall 2022 and into spring 2023.

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