Time to Really #LeadOnLeave: Before and After – In the absence of a federal policy providing paid leave for new parents, maternity and paternity leaves have emerged as hot employee benefits. 2015 was the year of updating parental leave for numerous companies worldwide, and we see 2016 giving rise to the next evolution of paid leave: programs and services that support employees both before and after their babies arrive. We predict that we’ll see more formal and flexible transition plans for leaving and returning to the workplace, subsidized backup child care for last-minute emergencies, and more affinity groups for working parents. Expect companies to get creative in how they support this sector of the workforce, going above and beyond paid leave with comprehensive supports that fit their organizational culture.
“These benefits are becoming increasingly important, especially for millennials who are demanding that companies listen to their needs, and they should, especially now that they account for the largest portion of our workforce as of last year,” stated Marty. “We found in our Better Benefits Survey that 83 percent of millennials would leave their current job for one with better family/lifestyle benefits. Given the size of this generation, they will have a significant impact on shaping workplace policies.”
- Supporting the Sandwich Generation – With nearly half of adults ages 40-50 falling into the Sandwich Generation (simultaneously caring for aging parents and children) and the 65+ population expected to reach 55 million by 2020, we’re seeing a new wave of working caregivers with work-life needs that employee benefits and workplace supports have not traditionally addressed. In response, we’ll see employers implement benefits and cultural standards to address the challenges and stress of employees facing senior care issues in their lives. Most importantly, the conversation of caregiving for an elderly loved one will expand into the workplace, with companies providing support groups and access to experts to help employees navigate their family’s needs beyond the standard, reactive EAP. We expect to see more robust, all-encompassing programs for employees that support more than just the basics of senior careplanning.
“The aging population is becoming more than just ‘the aging workforce’ issue,” added Marty. “Millennials now make up 25 percent of the 44 million caregivers in the U.S., and with 10,000 baby boomers retiring on average per day this younger generation will need support, something employers can and will need to provide.”
- #BetterBenefits for the Modern Workforce– The shift in workplace culture combined with generational differences means that the one-size-fits-all approach to benefits needsto become a one-size-fits-one approach. In 2016, expect to see more flexible benefits, leveraging tech-friendly platforms and pay-as-you-go models that allow employees to use what they need as they need it. Benefits will also become “smarter” as employees engage more, providing relevant information in a more timely fashion. And, as employees become more mobile, expect benefits to become more mobile too. According to the Care.com Better Benefits Survey, 40 percent of respondents would even be more inclined to use employee benefits if they were accessible on a mobile device.
- Keeping Culture at the Core – With the continued rise of flexible schedules and distributed talent, company culture — highly valued by employees — can at times take a hit. We’ll see employers looking to extend company culture beyond the corporate office walls. For instance, expect to see more of an increase in fostering communities among distributed workers through apps personalized to a particular company and topic/issue.
“Even though employees may be thousands of miles from one other, we’re seeing technology being used to create greater benefits equality and cultural consistency among a distributed team. Mobile technology allows remote employees to experience the company’s culture with access to the same corporate benefits as those who work at the mothership,” added Marty.
- Ask the Experts: Perks That Go Beyond – Lactation consultants. Social workers. Parenting experts. Yoga instructors. Personal chefs. As companies strive to respond to the many challenges families face, the workplace experts at Care.comare forecasting an increase in access to experts as an employee benefit. From social workers helping to navigate conversations around an employee’s aging parents to wellness coaches providing healthier lifestyle suggestions, companies will give employees access to professionals willing and ready to help with life’s challenges.