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What to Look for in a Backup Care Program

Patrick Ball on September 01, 2015 09:43 AM

For working parents, backup care is a safety net covering the gaps when normal arrangements fall through. For their employers, backup care is insurance against the absenteeism, presenteeism and productivity loss that occur when care emergencies arise.

Backup care options come in many shapes and sizes. They can be formal or informal, personal or employer-provided. While many working moms and dads look to their own friends and family as the first line of defense when normal arrangements fall through, some are lucky enough to have employer-provided supports in place.

From an employer’s perspective, backup care keeps your team – and their families – covered and protects against the type of care-related workday disruptions that cost American businesses billions annually. Beyond that, this type of work-life benefits have become a recruiting and retention advantage in recent years. 

But, in order for your backup care program to make a difference in your employees’ lives -- and for it to drive productivity -- you have to make sure it checks off all the right boxes. 

To meet the needs of our modern workforce (and modern families) a backup care program should be ... 

  1. Personal
    Your backup care program is only going to keep your employees productive and engaged if it meets their own individual needs. That might mean a space reserved in a day care center near the office or their home, or it might mean the ability to pick up the phone and have a qualified, fully-vetted caregiver sent right to their home. Further, as the Sandwich Generation – those employees “sandwiched” between children and aging relatives – expands, it’s becoming increasingly important for backup care solutions to provide elder care services, in addition to child care.

    Read More About the Sandwich Generation at Work

  2. Flexible
    Robust center-based coverage is important, but it’s critical that work-life benefits like backup care mirror the way modern families live and work. The thing about emergencies is that they’re unexpected, so your backup care is going to have to be flexible enough to meet large and small care needs that arise. When a kid comes down with chicken pox and she can’t go to school, having an on-demand in-home option is going to be more appealing than the traditional center-based approach.

  3. Affordable
    To be truly effective, a backup care plan needs to be economical. Even if it’s convenient, employees won’t use a backup care option that’s too pricey, so payment rules and subsidies should be spelled out clearly. At the same time, the program should not be cost-prohibitive for employers to administer, either, or else the expense of the program would start to cut into the savings on absenteeism and lost productivity costs.

    Learn More About How the Cost of Care Influences Working Parents' Careers

  4. Equitable
    Flying-nanny Wall Street perks are an outlier, but the motivation behind them is legit. Using technology to tap into a national backup care network is another way to let a working, nursing mom bring her baby on a work trip if that’s what she felt was best for her family.  When work-family benefits like backup care are tied to technology, they’re more economical and scalable across a global organization. It becomes more feasible to provide equal benefits coverage to employees, from hourly staff to top-level executives and from HQ to the most remote outpost.  

  5. User-Friendly  
    At the end of the day, your backup care program will only be as effective as its utilization. That’s why it’s so important to have a user-friendly program that’s accessible to your employees through a web portal and via mobile. It’s an on-demand world, and that’s how your backup care program needs to be structured in order to meet the needs of modern families.

    Learn More About's Backup Care Services 

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Employee Benefits Communication