In year three of the pandemic, working parents are still struggling. According to Pew Research, about half of them said the pandemic has made it harder to manage childcare responsibilities. Working mothers in particular, reported experiencing professional hurdles such as feeling like they couldn’t give 100% at work or needing to reduce their work hours due to parenting responsibilities.
Even as the country largely returns to pre-COVID protocols, working parents and employees with family responsibilities are still dealing with COVID complications, such as long absences from work and school when someone in the family gets COVID. This is in addition to everything else that parents and caregivers are juggling.
If you’re looking for ways to retain and support your talented parent and caregiver employees, here are some benefits you might consider:
It can’t be stated enough: flexibility is crucial for anyone managing responsibilities outside of work, whether that’s children, aging parents, or even a pet. Unless you’re a business that requires dealing with customers or on-site work, giving employees the freedom to complete their work on a schedule that works for them is a key benefit.
“Offering things like flexible hours, telecommuting, and condensed work weeks can make a big difference,” says Linda Shaffer, chief people and operations officer at Checkr, an HR technology platform. “At Checkr, we offer flexible start and end times, allowing people to work around their children’s schedules. We also have a remote work policy, which allows parents to work from home when needed.”
A Remote Work Stipend
A stipend that allows your workers to purchase supplies that make it easier for them to work remotely can increase their efficiency at home and make things easier. For instance, a parent working from home could benefit from things like a divider, noise-canceling headphones, a good microphone, or even a seat cushion that makes their chair more comfortable.
“I love when I see companies saying, ‘Find a quiet place in your home to work,’” says Jill Santopietro Panall, a human resources consultant at 21Oak HR Consulting. “If you have three or four children, that’s not a thing. What does that person need?”
Flexible Sick Time or COVID Days
COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, and with COVID absences requiring at least five days at home, workers can go through their sick days in record time. For instance, an employee may have to leave work just to pick up a child from school who’s tested positive for COVID.
“In some cases, companies are adding a little time that’s only for COVID,” Panall says. “It’s not extra time — it’s so they’re not getting killed on using their sick time when COVID keeps popping back up.”
A Working Parents ERG
Employee resource groups help different sets of people at a company feel connected and can strengthen employee engagement. An ERG for working parents can go a long way toward creating a supportive culture at your company. Monster, for instance, recently introduced a Parents and Caregivers ERG.
“Providing a safe space where employees can be their authentic selves and discuss how to better support and educate their workplace is highly effective,” says Adam Selita, CEO and cofounder of The Debt Relief Company. “ERGs have also been proven to help improve workplace satisfaction, as well as improve workplace conditions for employees who might feel marginalized.”
Child Care Support
Child care is a challenge for many working parents. Still, as recently as January 2020, only 6% of firms offered any child care benefits, according to a survey by B2B ratings platform Clutch. There are various ways to do this, including offering child care subsidies, backup child care assistance, or flexible child care spending accounts.
“Daycare is a big issue,” says Matthew Burr, a human resources consultant in Elmira, N.Y. “Is there an option to put a daycare center in your organization? As a perk or incentive? All those things are opportunities.”
Money Toward Education
If you have the means, offering benefits that can be used to pay for education can go a long way. According to data from Willis Towers Watson, an increasing number of companies are considering offering benefits like tuition reimbursement, student loan refinancing or 529 contributions this year or next.
“I just reviewed an offer letter from a friend who’s going to a company that had monthly deposits you can use toward your own student loans or your college student’s tuition,” Panall says. “That really says, ‘We’re digging deep.’ That’s for companies with bigger, deeper pockets, but that’s such a hot topic right now.”
Showing You Value Your Parent and Caregiver Employees
The more you can show that you value your parent and caregiver employees, the better your chances of hiring and retaining great talent. “I think there’s been an evolution, and people’s expectations and demands are going to change,” Burr says. “If you’re not offering me what I need, I’m going to get on the Internet and find something different.”