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For Benefits Consultants

The Myth of Work-Life Balance in the Modern Workforce

Marcy Willard


Last modified 19 Mar 2024

Published 11 Mar 2024

As an expert in employee benefits, you are likely aware that the perceived value of certain benefits is changing with the modern workforce.

Specifically, younger workers are placing a high value on flexibility, family time, and the well-being of their kids. 

Adjusting to the needs of a modern workforce

In our research, we examined the modern working mom in the US to see if their habits and beliefs were different from the national average.

Our findings are that this generation indeed looks different in their beliefs about themselves and about their lives in general. They report a significant amount of stress and ‘busyness’ that is unlike previous generations or other populations across the United States.

“In fact, 77% of modern working moms say that they are unable to fit everything they have to do into their daily lives.”[1] 

Instead, this generation of workers with kids feels somewhat ‘knocked off their oats.’ That is, they don’t feel the confidence they had in their 20’s. They feel that they are so busy doing so many different tasks that they are unable to do anything well. 

Employee benefits for modern workers

As a benefits provider, it is important to understand what these employees feel they need to do to be more successful in their lives. 

After decades of working as a psychologist, I can share that their perception of ‘how they are doing’ is more important for their mental health than any real-life achievement or accomplishment at the office. Unfortunately, people have a hard time being realistic about their levels of success at work or in other areas. 

Humans have an inborn negativity bias and an attachment to cognitive distortions. In psychology, ‘cognitive distortions’ refer to negative belief systems with no factual basis.

Although we all have these distortions, people go through their lives relatively unaware of them. As a result, people tend to expect that the worst will happen in a situation, underestimate their successes, and overestimate their mistakes.

Keeping this in mind, we will want to think about what employees believe about themselves and their lives right now so that benefits can support them in the best way possible.

At Cadey, we examined this when developing the Cadey app platform, and we are ready to share our findings with you. 

How this working generation looks different

The modern working mom reports some positive personality traits, such as being honest, kind, caring, generous, and trustworthy. However, they report that they are not as self-assured. They feel tense or nervous and have a great deal of stress in managing the demands throughout their day. 

In fact, working moms report significant issues with being too busy. They feel overscheduled, overwhelmed, and like they don’t have enough time to take care of themselves in the face of demands at work and home. They endorse statements like these:

“I am so busy, I often can’t finish everything I need to do in a day.”

“I often feel like my life is slipping out of control.” 

“Because of my lifestyle, I don’t take care of myself as well as I should.” [1]

These working parents indicate they used to feel much more confident than they do now. They report having extremely little time for themselves. They have little time for comfort, relaxation, or exercise. After all the chores are done, their evenings are spent scrolling their phones as their kids watch TV. 

Cell phones and the modern worker

With this modern workforce, we see many different habits due to cell phones. For example, over 68% of modern working moms worry about spending too much time on her phone [1].

Woman holding a baby while sitting at a computer desk and looking at her mobile phone.
Modern workers often have their cell phones nearby

Further stats around cell phone use in this modern working mom are as follows:

  • 68% worry about wasting too much time on their phone (vs. 52% US average)
  • 43% feel compelled to check their phone when in a middle of a conversation (vs. 30% US average)
  • 74% check her cell phone first thing in the morning (vs. 61% US average)
  • 63% prefer using apps to websites (vs. 51% US average)
  • 79% say apps have made her life so much more convenient (vs. 68% US average)

*In a survey of 51,000 consumers [1]

Employees report checking their phone 50+ times a day, and 30 of those are during work hours [7]. When they go to check their phones, there are notifications from work and home. ‘Fill out the form for the school’, ‘call the doctor,’ ‘email the client,’ and ‘finish that invoice’ messages all pop up together on the modern employee’s phone. Taken together, there’s a collision between the modern employee’s work life and home life.

Work-life balance is not a thing

What we have shown in our research is that the idea of ‘work-life balance’ is a fleeting illusion. There’s this long-held belief that we are supposed to put the demands of life on one side of the scale and the demands at home on the other. 

Busy mom multitasking by working on her computer while holding her toddler.
Busy moms have many demands at work and at home

Then, somehow, we are to balance the scale and even it out. Herein lies the issue: work and life are not separate. As one person with many important tasks, there is no real way to ‘balance’ these two aspects of our lives. 

In our research, we found that: 

  • 63% of modern working moms say that juggling family and workforce demands is stressful [1]
  • 77% of working moms say they can’t fit everything into their day [1]
  • 71% of working parents (both moms and dads) say that concerns over their child’s mental health make their job responsibilities more difficult to manage [4]
  • 54% of working parents report having their workday interrupted to address a mental health issue with their kids [5]

The psychologists behind the Cadey platform have come to accept the notion that life is more complex than previously described. An employee’s work life and home life do not neatly fit into two distinct little boxes. Instead, Cadey promotes a model of work-life integration.

Teen girl sitting on a bed being comforted by her mom.
Having support for struggles at home helps employees feel better

Rather than trying to ‘balance’ all of these demands, employees feel better and perform better when they have a sense of peace at home.

What comes first?

At Cadey, we say that employee wellness starts at home. Why? Well, what’s the most important thing in the life of a parent? It’s their kids. When their kids are really struggling, of course, employees have a significant level of stress that carries over to their work life.

When work life and home life collide

A woman comforts her teenage daughter while they sit on a couch.
Demands from home impact employee wellness at work

As a working mom myself, I have experienced the challenges of work and family life colliding. Just as the moms in our study reported, I sometimes start thinking that I am doing so many tasks that I am not effective at any of them. I resonate with this new generation of workers in that I have so much flexibility now but somehow even less time for myself. 

When my children struggled with mental health issues over the years, this collision between work and home got even more intense. I remember sleepless nights with a crying kid, followed by early morning meetings where I showed up late or unprepared. 

Child mental health crisis

Making these times infinitely more challenging, the current child mental health crisis is impacting families – and your client’s employees. In post-pandemic times, unprecedented levels of major depression, anxiety, and other disorders have surfaced in our nation’s kids. 

One in six kids has a diagnosed mental or behavioral health disorder [2], and about twice that many are struggling without a diagnosis. These kids are up all night battling these challenges, and your client’s employees are up with them. 

  • They get calls at work, it’s the principal’s office. Their child is in trouble again
  • They jet out for doctor appointments and therapy visits for a kid with debilitating anxiety
  • They worry about their child’s mood swings, behavior, or learning issues almost constantly

Due to these demands at home, about 60% of employees with young children are considering cutting back or quitting their jobs [7,8,9]. 

Taken together, if we want employees to be more productive at work, we have to address the challenges they are facing at home. Employees want support for their own wellness, yes, but what they really want is for their kids to get better

Cadey supports parents to find wellness at home… and work

As co-founders who were psychologists and working moms, Dr. Anna Kroncke and I decided that there was something we could do to help. 

We realized over hundreds of meetings with families that much of what parents need to do is somewhat standard. If your child is having meltdowns, there are certain concepts you will want to know. If your child is not following directions, there are other ideas you will need to learn as a parent. 

We wondered if we could put our ‘standard’ gold nuggets from the field into an app to help parents.

Professionally dressed woman walking with school-age daughter.
Working moms have the tools they need to help their kids

We knew that with just the two of us, we could help only a few thousand clients, but as a software company, we could reach millions. 

We started with an assessment that parents could do on their own to identify the struggles their kids were having. We wrote articles and instructional videos to help parents with all of the significant challenges we saw over the years of working in a psychology clinic. 

At Cadey, we are a bridge from a more peaceful home life to a better work life. We are a lifeline for your clients’ employees and their families. To support employees in work-life integration, we put the resources they need in the palm of their hands. When they reach for their phone, Cadey is there. 

With our solutions, clients can provide immediate support for the struggles their employees bring to work every day.

How do we support your clients? In 3 important ways. 

  • First, we offer validated assessments. These immediately pinpoint the child’s needs to direct parents right to the resources they need, including Cadey articles, videos, webinars, courses, and recommendations
  • Second, we give real-time guidance to your client’s employees. We tell working parents what to say and do to help their kids right in the moment they need it. We help them find peace and wellness even in the face of intense demands at home and at work.
  • Third, we save your client’s employees thousands of dollars and countless hours waiting for answers.

See it for yourself

In our demo calls, we crack open our award-winning Cadey app to show it to you. The platform includes videos, webinars, articles, and courses so your clients and their employees can get fast help on their own schedule.

By providing companies with this level of support, you are empowering their employees to perform at their best. Request a demo, and I will show you how it works.


[1] Brad Ficeck, Marcy Willard, Jan 2024. Data captured from 2023 Fall doublebase MRI study. Survey data completed by 51k consumers quarterly. 10,00 lines of data used for Cadey consumer analysis (parents of kids 4-11, age 25-44 years).

[2] Haan, Katherine. Remote work statistics and trends in 2024. Forbes.

[3] Daniel G. Whitney, PhD, and Mark D. Peterson, PhD, “US National and State-Level Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders and Disparities of Mental Health Care Use in Children,” JAMA Pediatrics, 173(4), 389-391, Feb. 11, 2019.

[4] Understanding how youth mental health impacts your workforce. Blue Cross Blue Shield. Spring, 2024. 

[5] Marti Bledsoe Post, The Great Collide: The Impact of Children’s Mental Health on the Workplace, On Our Sleeves, Spring 2021.

[6] Aaron Terrazas, “Parents Have Returned to the Workforce, But Gains Are Uneven and Challenges Persist,” Glassdoor, Sept. 16, 2022.

[7] Time spent using smartphones: 2024 statistics.  

[8] Paige McGlauflin, Joseph Abrams. More than half of employees with children are considering changing jobs to get better childcare benefits. Yahoo Finance. Oct 10, 2023

[9] Leila Schochet. The childcare crisis is keeping women out of the workforce. Cap 20. March 28, 2019. 

[10]  Kim Parker. Women more than men adjust their careers for family life. Pew Research Center. Oct 1, 2015