It appears that employees are sitting in the catbird seat in 2022, with no sign of that changing in the foreseeable future. The pandemic and The Great Resignation have led to a shortage of qualified candidates for many positions, which has given employees leverage in asking for better benefits.
Perhaps no group has a greater need for enhanced benefits than working parents. They have been stretched thin since 2020, with some schools recently returning to a normal schedule and having children physically return full-time to the classroom.
During the height of the pandemic, working parents were stressed and stretched thin by having kids at home 24/7 while schools and daycare centers were shut down. Parents were charged with getting their job duties completed while simultaneously helping their kids with school assignments.
Fortunately, many companies have responded to the unique needs of working parents by beefing up their employee benefits programs. But, while some traditional benefits are still in high demand by working moms and dads, they’re also seeking non-traditional benefits.
Let’s look at ten of the best employee benefits for working parents in 2022 and 2023 (traditional and non-traditional) that many larger companies are offering, and those that don’t should be seriously considering.
- Remote work
- Paid parental leave
- Affordable insurance
- Childcare support
- Student loan repayment assistance
- A mother's room
- Business trip coverage
- Return-to-work programs
- Employer "gifts"
- Maternity concierge services
This is a newer benefit that’s importance became recognized because of the pandemic. While some companies are requiring employees to return to the office, many more are still either allowing employees to continue to work fully remote or have implemented a hybrid model where working parents split time between the office and working remotely.
Companies offering remote work options for working parents are finding recruiting to be easier. They are attracting more interest from parents who have this filter on the career search engines they’re using, such as Indeed and glassdoor.
[ Survey: To remain remote, employees are ready to sacrifice other benefits ]
The operative word here is “paid.” Because of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), new parents can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave with the security of knowing their jobs must be waiting for them when they return.
An increasing number of companies are now offering paid parental leave, which is not required by any type of federal mandate but is in demand by working parents. The number of weeks new parents are paid while on leave varies by company.
Talk about a game-changing benefit — to support and retain current employers, but also to help attract new talent in today's hypercompetitive hiring landscape.
All parents working for larger employers want health, life, and disability insurance benefits, but health insurance has become unaffordable for many families. Premiums for an employee covering a spouse and children can easily approach $500-$1,000 per month, depending on the percentage of the premium the employer pays.
To make insurance more affordable for working parents, employers need to examine self-insuring to keep costs down or pay a larger percentage of the employee’s dependent coverage.
This is another great benefit smart companies are offering working parents. This childcare benefit can take several forms, including providing childcare at the workplace, providing a monthly stipend for parents to pay for childcare either at a preschool or daycare center, and allowing parents to work from home at least part-time to reduce their childcare costs.
Some employers are also offering an emergency daycare benefit, where companies pay local daycare providers retainers so employees who have had a daycare arrangement fall through at the last minute can call on the daycare provider and receive help. This allows them to have a productive day at work and not take personal time off to care for young children.
Several innovative companies like Genentech also include a company-run summer camp and other “Schools Out” programs as a benefit to help their employees with school-age children manage child care while school is out for the summer or longer spring or holiday breaks.
[ Related: How much does daycare cost? Probably more than you think ]
While student loan debt is a problem for millions of workers, it has hit working parents particularly hard. It hinders their ability to save for retirement and/or fund their children’s education.
Providing this benefit not only aids the employee, but also benefits the employer. Companies can now contribute and deduct up to $5,250 per year per employee to help pay off student loans, and the benefit payment is tax-free for the employee.
[ Related: President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan, explained ]
New moms returning to work after having a child often need a private and comfortable room to pump breast milk. Employers are mandated to provide this space under an amendment to the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Working parents who travel for business can find it sometimes difficult, if not impossible, to leave newborns or young children at home while they travel for business. Some companies, like USAA, offer reimbursement for business travel-related child care. This helps working parents who need to travel to professional conferences, trade shows, and other meetings find childcare in the cities they’re visiting.
Innovative companies are also helping new moms and dads ease back into work following parental leave. For example, Salesforce lets its employees return to work four days per week for four weeks, while Amazon lets new moms or primary caregivers choose up to eight weeks of flex-time and various part-time options.
[ Related: The importance of return-to-work programs in the modern workplace ]
Some employers are helping employees pad their pockets with a little extra cash. Facebook pays an employee who has become a new parent $4,000 in “baby cash, while Salesforce provides a $250 take-out meal allowance and UKG offers $3000 per child to help parents pay for extracurricular activities.
The most creative benefit you may find is concierge services offered to working mothers by Fifth Third Bank. It helps working moms with many things they need outside the office, such as dropping off and picking up laundry and dry cleaning, decorating a nursery, or setting up a diaper service.
As we’ve seen, employees who are working parents are demanding that companies step up and offer more of these benefits. Companies are increasingly responding in a very competitive hiring environment and recognize that employees will pass them over if they aren’t offering more than the expected basic benefits.
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