Nearly two in five organizations would rate their workforces as extremely or very stressed, and worker stress levels have climbed in the last two years, a recent International Foundation study found. Recognizing the negative impact stress can have on worker performance, many organizations are placing a greater emphasis on benefits that help employees achieve work/life balance.
The International Foundation report Employee Benefits Survey: 2018 Results reveals the prevalence of a wide variety of work/life balance benefits, including dependent-care benefits, flexible work options, and types of worker paid and unpaid leave. Whether it’s child-care subsidies, leave for caregiving, or “pawternity,” organizations are looking for ways to help their workforce achieve work/life balance.
Organizations offer a variety of benefits to assist in the care of dependents, including children, spouses, siblings and elderly parents.
- 74% offer dependent-care flexible spending accounts, which are employer-sponsored funds that permit employees to use pretax dollars to pay for the care of a child or other dependent.
- 27% are realizing the impact that searching for child- or elder-care services can have on worker productivity and are offering resource and referral services, an increase from past years.
- 17% are offering financial assistance for adoption. This assistance may come in the form of reimbursement for adoption agency fees, legal fees, pregnancy and hospital expenses of the birth mother, as well as immigration and naturalization fees.
- 13.2% provide resource and referral services for the adoption of children, a process that can be complicated and time-consuming.
- A small number of employers offer emergency/sick care for children (7%) and elderly relatives (5%), or on-site or near-site child care (5%).
- 3% offer financial subsidies for the escalating costs of child care.
- Less than 1% offer subsidies for elder care (0.7%), care for special-needs children (0.5%), or on-site or near-site elder care (0.2%).
Flexible Work Options
A key component of work/life balance is flexible work options, including telecommuting, compressed workweeks and job sharing. Here’s what employers are offering when it comes to flexible work:
- 53% offer worker telecommuting, allowing employees to work full- or part-time from home while maintaining communication with an office, a number that has grown in the past two years.
- 51% offer flexible work hours or compressed workweeks.
- 17% offer summer hours such as compressed workweeks.
- 17% offer flexible work schedules for religious observances.
- 9% offer job sharing, a system in which two or more part-time workers share one full-time job.
Paid leave benefits allow workers the flexibility to miss occasional time from work while not losing a substantial portion of their wages. Paid family leave benefits, including parental and caregiving leaves, have drawn increased attention from federal, state and local governments over the last few years, and some states have passed or are considering mandating such benefits. Of the organizations surveyed:
- 41% offer paid maternity leave provided to a mother with the arrival of a new child. While the gap is dwindling, organizations are still less likely to offer paid paternity leave (32%) to the father of a new child.
- 21% offer paid adoption leave.
- 17% offer paid family/caregiving leave. This leave is often taken for the care of elderly parents.
- 8% encourage employees to explore continuing education options by offering paid leave to attend classes.
- 8% offer paid leave to attend a child’s activities.
Related Reading: 9 Impactful Benefits Employers Should Consider Offering
Organizations also commonly offer various types of unpaid leave. While uncompensated, this time allows workers the flexibility needed to address out-of-office needs while maintaining employment.
- 34% offer unpaid parental/family leave beyond the requirements of FMLA.
- 26% offer unpaid adoption leave, a benefit more commonly offered on an unpaid basis rather than paid.
- 25% offer unpaid leave to attend a child’s activities.
- 6% offer unpaid pet paternity or “pawternity” leave, which provides workers with time off to help a pet adjust to its new home.
Learn More About Work/Life Balance Benefits
The International Foundation report, Employee Benefits Survey: 2018 Results, examines the entire spectrum of benefits today’s employers are providing, including the work/life balance employee benefits listed above.
Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation
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