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Flexible Benefits are the New Priority

Julie Wittes Schlack on March 26, 2021 10:05 AM

As the workforce in many industries becomes increasingly decentralized, flexibility – where people work, what hours, and the family-friendly benefits they are offered – is becoming increasingly widespread.

A survey of 500 Human Resource leaders and C-suite decision-makers, recently conducted by, reveals that many companies are abandoning the “nice to have” benefits critical to a centralized workforce (such as free lunches and commuter benefits) in favor of benefits that have greater impact on the way we work today and will continue to work tomorrow.

When asked, “How would you describe your company/ organization’s strategy to manage the challenges faced by employees who are caring for their children or elderly parents during the COVID-19 pandemic?” respondents lean into increasing support and flexibility.

Child care and senior care benefits are each currently offered by 43% of the respondents’ organizations.

But 98% have plans for at least one form of benefit expansion.
• 50% say their organization plans to newly offer or expand child care benefits in the near future.
• 42% plan to newly offer or expand senior care benefits.

And 61% of respondents favor flexible benefits over on-site care. Of that group:

• 28% previously favored on-site child care benefits, but their thinking has changed since the pandemic began. (By comparison, only 7% favored flexible benefits before the pandemic and now prefer on-site.)
• An additional 26% favored flexible care benefits before the pandemic, and now report strengthened support for this option. Of those that currently offer care benefits, the one most frequently provided is paid memberships to online platforms to find care (56%). This is valuable as it serves the needs of those not only caring for children but also for elders, and even pets.

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And flexible benefits lead in terms of future plans. While companies that already offer on-site care aren’t necessarily planning to close those facilities, we see new care benefit plans taking a more flexible form, with:

• 45% planning to add paid memberships to online platforms to find care as a new benefit (and 47% planning to expand this benefit);
• 45% planning to newly offer in-home backup child care (and 42% planning to expand this benefit).

This decreasing reliance on on-site child care in favor of empowering employees in their choice of care options isn’t relevant just to industries with a high concentration of knowledge workers. Even intrinsically on-site industries such as retail and hospitality require employees to cope with fluctuations in shifts, hours, and locations worked. As a result, this population is just as likely to benefit from in-home or in-center care options, as well as paid memberships to online platforms.

Read the full report here

Julie Wittes Schlack

Julie Wittes Schlack is a research consultant, founder, and former SVP of Product Innovation at C Space Corporation. She is the author of This-All-At-Onceness (Pact Press, 2019).