One in three employees in the workforce is also caring for a child. And employees with children are in demand because they’re experienced and skilled at prioritizing, context switching, multitasking, and people management.
If your company wants to be competitive in recruiting and retaining caregivers, you need to be innovative with family-friendly benefits. Here are a few ideas you might not have thought of:
- Unlimited PTO. Flexibility is key to anyone caregiving since the stress of balancing family life can be overwhelming. Offering telecommuting and flexible hours really helps, but why not take it to the next level by offering unlimited PTO? Unlimited PTO works by setting a minimum amount of time off an employee has to take, but no cap or maximum as long as they’re fulfilling their duties. Unlimited PTO establishes mutual trust between employer and employee and gives employees opportunities to take time off as they see fit. If you implement this, it’s important to set and communicate parameters to both managers and employees and review the policy regularly to address any issues.
- Creating a family-friendly environment. This means respecting your employees with children when planning company events, retreats and parties. Keep company events to working hours – a late night cocktail party or a weekend of team building isn’t going to be fun for a parent worried about not spending time with their children, putting pressure on their spouse or forcing them to find childcare. If a weekend event is unavoidable, consider providing childcare or children’s activities as well.
- Setting a policy of “family comes first”. This means setting a universal policy that supports caregivers who work for you. Parents may be reluctant to share child related challenges or stress with their supervisor for fear of being stigmatized. But if they know the company is committed to helping them manage home and work responsibilities, and that managers are trained to support them, parents will be more apt to take advantage of tools provided, openly share concerns and brainstorm solutions with their team.
- Providing backup daycare. Having resources available for backup care can be lifesavers to working parents. 25% of the time when an employee calls in sick to work, they’re actually taking care of someone else. So, consider hiring resources for backup care so your employees will have confidence that they are available to do their job even if there are scheduling issues.
- Free meals. A lot of companies have started providing catered lunches one or more days a week, but for working parents, these may be more than just a fancy perk. For caregivers trying to get a child up, dressed and out the door with a lunch, snacks and homework, many parents are just too busy to eat breakfast or pack anything for themselves. Ditto once they’re home if they’re deep into the bath, story, homework routine. Those catered meals may be the only time they get to eat a nutritious meal all day.
- Support for caregivers whose children have developmental issues. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one in four children are at risk for developmental delay. It’s hard balancing work and home life, but adding in the stress of caring for a child with developmental delay is a whole new level of challenge. Caring for a child who seems to be exhibiting delayed speech, ADHD, autism or other developmental delay greatly increases the time spent researching solutions, missing work for doctor’s appointments and worrying about what to do to support their child. Companies who provide support for early identification of developmental delay can save time and reduce stress for parents and maybe even see claims reductions. More importantly, parents of children with delays often leave the workforce entirely. Losing someone valuable could cost your company up to 9 months in salary.
- Providing educational support for caregivers on day to day issues. Even if a child is developing normally, everyday challenges like tantrums, sleep issues, separation anxiety and restless behavior can distract and concern parents. Consider offering educational resources like online support, webinars on parenting issues, personalized action plans to help their children hit general milestones or research backed activities to help parents get their children back on track.
- Peer support groups. Encourage parent peer support in the workplace by creating an ERG (Employee Resource Group), hosting regular lunch and learns or closed chat rooms for employees who care for children of similar ages. These groups are inexpensive to provide – usually just lunch or a conference room – and can help provide emotional connection, useful brainstorming or information and further proof that your company cares about employees caring for children.
- Financial services for caregivers. Providing financial benefits for those caring for children can help make your company a great place to work and provide a competitive benefit that isn’t directly tied into compensation. Dependent care FSAs or subsidies for daycare can provide a simple, stable way for employees and employers to save money and they can be an excellent recruiting and retention tool. Additionally, since one of the most expensive undertakings employees may face is saving for college, providing solutions, training or workshops on college financial planning can be helpful for employees.
- Parent concierge services. Most parents feel there just aren’t enough hours in the day to take care of things like meal prep, transportation, purchasing gifts, planning events, etc. Offering concierge services to help do the heavy lifting can be a great benefit for employees that can allow them to focus more fully on their priorities of family and work life and leave the little things for someone else.
For recruiting and retaining caregivers, sometimes it’s more about being innovative than focusing just on salaries and titles. Interested in providing something unique to attract or retain employees caring for young children? Contact us for ideas on how Cognoa can help you reduce turnover, absenteeism and have higher morale.