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Are Companies Really Betting on Family-Friendly Benefits to Win the Talent Wars?

Patrick Ball on August 23, 2016 12:21 PM

Are companies really betting on family-friendly benefits? You betcha. 

You’ve heard this story before: Employers are offering generous family-friendly benefits in an effort to win the war on talent. “Makes a great headline on the internet,” you thought, probably. “But how common are these benefits IRL?”

The International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans dove into that question in its 2016 Employee Benefits survey. Their findings indicate family-friendly benefits like paid leave, flexible hours, fertility services and child care assistance are indeed gaining popularity in the workplace.

“Employers are offering more and more niche benefits to meet the needs of their workforce,” Julie Stich, the foundation’s director of research, said in a press release. “Helping employees transition to parenthood can allow employers to retain top talent while building employee loyalty.”

So what are the trending topics when it comes to creating a family-friendly culture that will help recruit, retain and engage top talent?

  1. Help Managing Child Care Costs
    One of the most common offerings among employers is dependent care flexible spending accounts. DCAPS, which can help parents offset expenses like day care or summer camps, are offered by 69 percent of employers, according to the International Foundation’s research. A far smaller percentage – about 3 percent – offer direct subsidies to help employees pay for child care.

    Whenever you can cut into the cost of care, it’s a huge help for families. Child care is one the largest household expenses for American families, and therefore has a major influence in their lives. According to’s 2016 Cost of Care report, 67 percent of working parents – and 72 percent of Millennial parents – say child care costs have had an impact on their career decisions.

    RELATED: 7 Employee Benefits That Help Working Parents With the Cost of Care

  2. Parental Leave
    Paid maternity leave has been picking up steam over the past few years. Paternity leave and adoption leave, too. And not just among startups and tech companies. According to the International Foundation’s research, more than a third of companies (37 percent) of all sizes offer maternity leave, 24 percent provide paternity leave and 19 percent leave for adoptive parents.

    As long as the United States remains the only developed nation without a policy providing paid leave for new moms – and the average mom returns to work within 2 weeks of giving birth – offering paid parental leave is going to make employers more attractive to workers and candidates thinking about their transition to parenthood. An EY survey of Millennials – who make up about 90 percent of new parents these days – found that 38 percent of these younger professionals would consider moving to another country in search of better parental leave.

  3. Flexible Schedules
    Another very popular perk among professionals navigating the transition to parenthood is flexible scheduling. This is also quite popular among employers, as 47 percent offer flexible hours or compressed workweeks, according to the IFEBP survey.

    Flex work arrangements can be helpful for all employees, not just the Millennial and new parent crowds. Life doesn’t work on a 9-to-5 schedule, so giving employees more flexibility around when and where their work gets done can boost engagement and productivity at the same time it helps employees achieve highly coveted work-life integration.

    RELATED: The Flexibility Without Shame Conversation

  4. Help Finding Child Care
    We’ve already covered the challenge of paying for care, but finding a reliable, affordable child care option can be stressful in its own right. Today, almost one in four employers (22 percent) offer resource and referral services for employees who need child care. Another 8 percent offer on-site or near-site child care options.

    And what happens when your day care is closed or your nanny gets sick? Our Cost of Care survey found 74 percent of parents admit their job has been impacted when their care plans fall through. Of that group, 78 percent have used a sick day, 37 percent said they’ve fallen behind and 28 percent have had to lose a day’s pay. One way to prevent this type of absenteeism is providing backup care, a benefit the IFEBP survey says 10 percent of employers provide.

  5. Help Starting a Family
    Another family-friendly benefit trending upward is the area of fertility and adoption services. Almost a quarter of larger employers (24 percent) offer fertility services as part of their health care benefits, according to the survey. Nineteen percent cover in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, 12 percent cover fertility medications and 9 percent cover non-IVF fertility treatments. Another 6 percent cover visits with counselors, and 4 percent egg harvesting/freezing services.

    Adoption assistance is another area where companies can help employees looking to start a family. To that end, 14 percent provide resource and referral services for adopted children, and 16 percent provide financial assistance for adoption, according to the International Foundation survey.

Has your organization invested in family-friendly benefits as a way to attract and retain top talent? What kinds of challenges or advantages have you found with this strategy? Sound off in the comments below. 


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