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18 Jan 2022

Why family friendly benefits are of increasing importance to your workforce

Family friendly benefits are soaring in popularity. What are they, and why are so many companies adding them?

 

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When your employees start work each day, they bring their dedication, responsibilities, experiences and emotions with them. For working parents, that means their family and their daily struggles. Organisations championing a family friendly culture shows employees that they value their lives beyond work – not just as workers.

Investments in family friendly benefits such as flexible and remote working options, care reimbursement, parental leave and more can aid retention, recruitment, diversity, inclusion and brand culture. Surveys have indicated that employees would prefer enhanced benefits or paid leave over a higher salary or bonus.

What are family friendly benefits?
Family friendly benefits support employees through all life stages in integrating and balancing work and family responsibilities. These benefits include support for parents such as family planning advice, family building reimbursements, mental health support and access to specialty care. They can also include broader caregiving leave (eg, caring for a parent, spouse or domestic partner), as well as parental leave, adoption, paid bereavement leave and childcare benefits.

As more companies look to foster an inclusive and diverse workplace, family friendly benefits are becoming an increasingly crucial element of their human capital strategy. According to the Willis Towers Watson’s 2020 Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey, almost six in ten employers (59%) say family friendly policies have been essential to their talent strategy over the past three years to a great or very great extent, a figure expected to grow to 77% in the next two years. The same report indicated that nearly two-thirds of employers (65%) offer family friendly benefits because they align with their corporate strategy and mission. A similar percentage provides these benefits to support their diversity and inclusion goals.

Mothers in particular are penalised in the workplace. According to Bright Horizons’ Modern Family Index, 42% of women fear starting a family will hurt their career, and 43% of highly qualified mothers leave the workforce. On the other hand, despite progress in paternity leave policies, a reported 70% of men in the US take fewer than 10 days parental leave, according to a Department of Labor survey.

Family Benefits are valuable for everyone involved
Good for children – when parents get to spend more time with their children and give them the stimulation and nourishment they need, it leads to positive outcomes. According to UNICEF, investing in early childhood development is one of the most effective ways to give children the best start to life while improving their abilities, skills, and productivity.‍

Good for women ‍– family friendly benefits can help organisations improve gender diversity and demonstrate that they value women in the workplace. Affordable child and family care services enable women to participate in employment while caring for dependents. Access to high-quality gender-responsive childcare and family friendly early childhood development benefits are crucial to reducing gender imbalances and encouraging greater co-responsibility between women and men.‍

Good for LGBTQ+ – 63% of LGBTQ+ millennials are considering becoming first-time parents or having more children, according to the Family Equality Council’s LGBTQ Family Building Survey, while 63% of LGBTQ+ individuals intend to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents. Your company can stand out as a leader in diversity and inclusion by supporting LGBTQ+ employees on the path to parenthood.

Good for business – Research suggests that family friendly policies are also linked to enhanced workforce productivity. The same UNICEF survey states that companies are beginning to see the value of offering family friendly benefits that reduce absenteeism, increase employee retention and lower recruitment costs in many countries.

These policies enable working parents, particularly mothers, to advance their careers, which helps bolster employee engagement and morale while making companies more competitive at attracting, motivating, and retaining employees. Gender-neutral family-friendly policies also increase the probability of women returning to work after maternity leave while encouraging the redistribution of domestic care work and parenting responsibilities.

What types of family-friendly benefits do employees want?

Paid parental leave
Parental leave is an important employee benefit as it increases female participation in the workforce and plays an essential role in closing the gender gap. According to a feature in The Atlantic magazine, Daddy Track: The Case for Paternity Leave, gender-inclusive parental leave policies "boost male participation in the household, enhance female participation in the labor force, and promote gender equity in both domains”.

Fertility and family building benefits
One in eight couples struggle with infertility. Since fertility treatments can be prohibitively expensive, employers can offer fertility benefits. Providing financial assistance for different types of family building methods (like adoption, IVF, and more) is paramount, too, and considerate of the needs of LBGTQA+ employees.

Flexible working arrangements
Flexible working arrangements, such as flextime and remote policies, makes it easier and less stressful for working parents.

Child care assistance
Childcare is typically a family’s biggest expense, and a survey by Care, 5 things you need to know about child care costs and the workplace found that 69% of parents say child care assistance affects their career decisions.

Lactation and sleep support
Make your office a nursing-friendly environment. Consider designating a private lactation room with a refrigerator that is meant only for pumping and storing breastmilk. Similarly, most parents share one thing in common as they become new parents - lack of sleep. Sleep consultants can help and guide parents through sleep techniques and schedules to help parents have a better night’s sleep too.

Article provided by Syrona Health

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