Why You're Not Offering the Right Benefits to Working Parents
As businesses rush to recruit new workers in an ever-tightening labor market, more and more emphasis is being placed on the role of parental support benefits in compensation packages. While they can be expensive, family-related benefits are an investment that will help your company recruit and retain working parents.
Here's why you need to offer better working parent benefits to compete in today's labor market, and how your business can help your employees establish a better work-life balance.
How Important Is Work-life Balance to Working Parents?
Striking a good work-life balance is extremely important to modern workers. A 2018 survey of US employees found that 72 percent categorized work-life balance as "very important," with another 23 percent viewing it as "somewhat important."
Likewise, employee engagement and retention data clearly show this desire for a balance between work and family life. 67 percent of working parents say they would be more loyal to their current employers if childcare were part of their compensation package. Dissatisfaction with overall benefits also leads to low levels of job satisfaction. In fact, “68 percent of workers who are satisfied with their overall benefits packages are also satisfied with their jobs, compared to only 5 percent of workers who are satisfied with their jobs but not satisfied with their benefits packages.”
When work and family life do come into conflict, neither parents nor employers benefit. Many workers will prioritize caring for children over their careers. In 2020, lack of childcare support was a major contributing factor to the loss of about 700,000 parents from the workforce. It’s also a leading cause of worker absenteeism, with 37 percent of working parents reporting having missed work within a 90-day period to care for their kids.
But even when kids are regularly attending school in person, "childcare" is a daily challenge. Because childcare is so much more than school or daycare.
It's all the other things parents are required to do during business hours. Like pickups and drop-offs, after-school care, homework help, managing holiday breaks, and last-minute sick days.
The parental workload is especially heavy now as families struggle with Covid-induced learning loss. For example, over the past 18 months, nearly one in five US parents did not get what they wanted from their child’s school.
The bottom line is, providing practical support to working parents is crucial for both workers and employers. For workers, it reduces stress, improves job satisfaction, and eliminates the tension between career and family life. Meanwhile, employers have an easier time recruiting and retaining employees when they demonstrate a healthy work-life balance.
For example, studies show that better working-parent benefits give you the edge over the competition. Just imagine you’re a father with a newborn at home. You interview for two jobs. One job pays well but offers nothing beyond basic sick leave and a two-week vacation. The other job pays slightly less but includes comprehensive family benefits, including a flexible schedule and a childcare stipend. Which employer seems like the better option?
When businesses provide effective parental support, they see less absenteeism and higher levels of productivity. Case in point, this study shows companies that invest in employees and their families see 5.5 times more revenue growth thanks to greater innovation, higher talent retention, and increased productivity.
Where Are Companies Falling Short?
Unfortunately, many companies fail to live up to their workers' expectations on work-life balance where kids are concerned. 56 percent of working parents find it difficult to balance their careers with their family responsibilities. In large part, this is due to a lack of parental benefits on the part of employers. An astonishing 85 percent of working parents polled in a Care.com survey said that they wished their employers offered childcare benefits.
Business leaders have also failed to live up to their own statements about supporting working parents. Polls find that a majority of business leaders have seen negative impacts on their businesses due to a lack of accessible childcare support. Despite a clear understanding of this problem in the business community, only six percent of all US businesses offer parental benefits.
Overall, these statistics point to a considerable mismatch between what working parents need and what employers currently provide.
When more than half of working parents find it difficult to reach a satisfactory work-life balance, it's clear that the status quo isn't working. Many companies are also unwilling to explore creative solutions, such as educational programs or child care stipends. While most small businesses can't afford comprehensive caregiver benefits, a willingness to get creative and provide at least some help would go a long way towards making an impact and showing they care.
How Can Businesses Better Support Working Parents?
Fortunately, there are several ways for employers to improve their support. One of the easiest and most popular is to offer flexible hours and remote work options. Businesses can also provide direct financial assistance to working parents.
Stipends and backup care are good ways to ensure parents don't have to choose between work and their kids. A survey conducted by Bright Horizons found that providing a childcare alternative for emergencies prevented 50 percent of parents from reducing their hours and 20 percent from taking extended leaves or quitting their jobs altogether.
But while a flexible workplace and backup care is an excellent place to start, these benefits don’t address parents’ daily caregiving challenges. Like getting your child one-on-one tutoring at a time and price you can manage. Or finding the right extracurricular class that will help your kids achieve their dreams, or avoiding an all-day Netflix binge when they’re sick.
Daily challenges like these are why companies should also be willing to get creative when supporting working parents. Your business can offer parental support in everyday ways, like education programs, test prep services, and virtual enrichment classes.
One educational program you may want to explore as you look for ways to support working parents within your organization is Outschool. We provide flexible online classes for kids ages three to 18.
Kids love Outschool because we have over 150,000 fun, interactive classes to choose from. Parents love it because it helps give them some time back and fill in the gaps. And employers love Outschool because it’s one of the most impactful and cost-effective parental support benefits you can provide.