Employee benefits are undergoing a comprehensive change, with support for caregiving responsibilities emerging as a key booster of productivity and retention. A study conducted by Care.com — a company that provides services to families —found that 46% of employers are prioritizing childcare more in their benefit packages, while 43% are prioritizing senior care.
“Employers struggling to attract and retain staff with caregiving duties that affect their attendance or performance can respond by offering childcare and senior care benefits that ensure their employees are not only able to show up for work but are more likely to stay,” said Stefanie Camfield, assistant general counsel and human resources consultant at Engage PEO.
In a conversation with Insurance Business, Camfield spoke about the factors that are driving a benefits paradigm shift and how employers can satisfy the push for better caregiving perks.
According to Camfield, there are a few key factors that have influenced the benefits packages that are being offered to employees in current times:
Benefit offerings, to appeal to employees, must not only be suited to their lifestyle, but they should also be affordable rather than being viewed as just another expense taken out of paycheques.
These factors have prompted 95% of employers to reassess their current benefits packages and another 47% to trim what is being offered to focus on what will bolster productivity while also retaining staff who may be looking elsewhere. Some benefits that may be cut from packages include adoption/fertility assistance, commuter benefits, financial education and wellness resources, as well as health and fitness discounts.
While certain elements of benefits packages may be trimmed due to waning relevance, caregiving assistance for both children and elders have increasingly become an attractive perk for professionals.
94% of job seekers pay attention to competitors’ benefits packages, which means that appealing to the needs of a generation interested in alleviating the stress of securing proper day care during office hours is paramount.
“Employers are struggling to attract and retain staff with caregiving duties that affect their attendance or performance,” said Camfield. “They can respond to this widespread phenomenon by offering childcare and senior care benefits that ensure their employees are not only able to show up for work but are more likely to stay.”
Millennials have now become known as the “sandwich generation,” as they are responsible for caring for an older, Boomer generation as well as children of their own.
“Boomers are challenging the caregiving responsibilities of the smaller generations that came after them ,” said Camfield, putting pressure on the younger generations for elder care. This has necessitated an increased need for relevant benefits to suit the challenging schedules of many professionals.
How companies can provide support to boost morale
Moving beyond a factual recognition of a strained workforce, employers must now seek out the proper perks to confront these widespread caregiving issues to ensure an engaged team that is physically and mentally present.
“Offering benefits that reduce the cost of senior day care or short-term respite care providers can assist an employee with securing safe caregiving for an elderly parent so they can report to work and remain productive,” said Camfield.
For smaller to mid-sized businesses, acquiring these benefits may be cumbersome and costly, which is where a professional employer organization (PEO) can come in handy.
Working directly with insurers and brokers, these organizations aim to negotiate costs for benefits packages that suit the needs of company’s employees.
“Employers with diverse workforces should offer a range of benefits that meet the needs of their employees,” said Camfield. “By participating in a PEO, companies can achieve this goal.”
For those who are trying to resort to government subsidies for elder care but are bewildered by the vague language and inaccessibility of the information provided, these benefits packages can be a vital resource.
“These programs can be difficult to decipher even for those administering and overseeing them,” said Camfield. “One area of benefits that addresses this issue is care coordination where knowledgeable individuals help families navigate the system of elder care support programs.”