In a recent International Foundation wellness survey, respondents were asked about company culture issues that are impacting workforce productivity. Far and away, the most cited issue was worker stress. Another commonly cited issue was poor work-life balance.
Responding organizations are recognizing the profound impact that these issues are having on worker performance and are placing a greater emphasis on benefits that help employees achieve work/life blend/integration. The International Foundation’s report, Employee Benefits Survey: 2022 Results, reveals the prevalence of a wide variety of work/life blend benefits offered by corporate/single employer and public employer respondents, including dependent care benefits, flexible work options, and types of worker paid and unpaid leave.
1. Dependent Care/Services
- Organizations offer a variety of benefits to assist in the care of dependents, including children, spouses, siblings and elderly parents. About three in four (74%) respondents offer dependent care flexible spending accounts, which are employer-sponsored funds that permit employers to use pretax dollars to pay for the care of a child or other dependent.
- Respondents are realizing the impact that searching for child- or elder-care services can have on worker productivity. Therefore, more than one in three (34%) offer resource and referral services for child or elder care.
- Financial assistance for adoption is offered by almost one in five organizations (19%). Financial 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.
- Similarly, 18% of respondents provide resource and referral services for the adoption of children, a process that can be complicated and time-consuming. Smaller proportions of respondents offer emergency/sick care for children (12%) and elderly relatives (10%).
- Finally, a small percentage of respondents (6%) offer financial subsidies for the escalating costs of child care.
2. Flexible Work Options
- A key component of work/life blend is flexible work options, including remote work, compressed workweeks and job sharing. About three in four (74%) responding organizations offer hybrid work arrangements, allowing employees to work full- or part-time from home while maintaining communication with an office. As expected, prevalence of this offering has jumped substantially since the COVID-19 pandemic.
- More than half (55%) take this concept a step further and have remote work arrangements where employees work 100% from home.
- A similar proportion (57%) offer flexible work hours, typically designed as flexible start and stop times.
- One in five offer flexible work schedules for religious observances (20%), while a similar proportion (19%) of respondents offer compressed workweeks. Often in these scenarios, workers have a choice of working 40 hours through four ten-hour days instead of the traditional schedule of five eight-hour days.
- About one in six (17%) workplaces offer summer hours, while only 4% of respondents offer job sharing, a system in which two or more part-time workers share one full-time job.
3. Paid Leave
- 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 leave, 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. The most commonly types of paid leave offered are bereavement (87%) and jury duty leave (81%).
- More than two in five (43%) responding organizations offer paid maternity leave provided to a mother with the arrival of a new child. While the gap is dwindling, respondents are still less likely to offer paid paternity leave (33%) to the father of a new child.
- On a similar note, 43% offer paid parental/family leave, which is often taken for the care of elderly family members.
- More than one in three (34%) offer paid adoption leave, a level of prevalence that has increased substantially in recent iterations of this survey. Other family-friendly leave options are part of workplace offerings, including paid leave related to a miscarriage (15%) and paid foster care leave (11%). Respondents are slightly more likely to offer foster care leave on an unpaid basis (15%).
- A similar group of responding organizations have leave offerings that appeal to workers’ civics and community. Less than two in five offer paid leave to vote (38%), paid volunteer/community service leave (32%) and paid military leave (29%).
- On a more general level, about one in four offer paid personal leave (24%) and paid leave for inclement weather (22%).
- To encourage employees to explore continuing education options, a small proportion of respondents (11%) offer paid leave to attend classes, a benefit more commonly offered on an unpaid basis (13%).
- About one in ten (10%) offer paid leave for victims of domestic violence, a type of leave more commonly offered on an unpaid basis (17%).
- A similar proportion offer paid leave to attend a child’s activities (10%).
- Smaller proportions offer paid sabbatical leave (7%), a paid day off for workers’ birthday (6%), paid leave for other religious observances upon request (5%), paid volunteer firefighter/RMS leave (3%) as well as a paid day off for workers’ anniversary day with organization (2%).
4. Unpaid Leave
- Organizations also commonly offer various types of unpaid leave. While uncompensated, two in three (66%) respondents offer unpaid leave that allows workers the flexibility needed to address out-of-office needs while maintaining employment.
- More than one in four (27%) responding organizations offer unpaid parental/family leave beyond the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). FMLA requires that employers with more than 50 employees offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period if the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition. The same unpaid leave is available for the birth of a child, newborn care, adoption, foster care placement or care of an immediate family member.
- Unpaid personal leave if offered by 44% of respondents, while 22% offer unpaid adoption leave. Similarly, one in five (19%) offers unpaid leave to attend a child’s activities, leave for other religious observance upon request (19%), unpaid bereavement/funeral leave (18%) and unpaid leave to vote (17%).
- Workplaces also offer unpaid leave for inclement weather (14%), unpaid leave related to a miscarriage (13%), jury duty (12%), sabbaticals (12%), volunteer firefighter/RMS service (12%), volunteer/community service leave (12%) as well as menstrual leave (8%).
- On a less frequent basis (8%), workforces are offering unpaid pet paternity leave, which provides workers with time off to help a pet adjust to its new home.
Justin Held, CEBS
Associate Director, Research & Education
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