Flexible Backup Care: The Crucial Lifeline for Millions Working Nontraditional Schedules

Flexible Backup Care-The Crucial Lifeline for Millions Working Nontraditional Schedules

Millions of workers from the retail, hospitality and medical fields have never logged a traditional 40-hour, Monday-to-Friday workweek. Now, millions more from a growing array of industries are joining them, as more companies adopt a four-day workweek and workers everywhere are clamoring for flexible work arrangements.

With work schedules and the nature of work itself continuing to evolve, so are the programs employers rely on to keep workers engaged and productive. Backup care is a prime example.

Backup care programs have been an invaluable help to workers who are raising children and caring for older loved ones. Backup care kicks in when their regular, day-to-day care arrangements inevitably go awry. With backup care in place, employees don’t have to miss work or scramble at the last minute to find alternate arrangements. However, many legacy backup care programs have key drawbacks: they restrict employees to using providers limited to traditional business hours, and they’re often focused solely on child care.

As a result, employers are adopting a new model of backup care—one that provides greater levels of flexibility and comprehensiveness.

The 3 Pillars of Results-Driven Backup Care

The 3 Pillars of Results-Driven Backup Care
By their very design, programs with limited networks and care options are destined to deliver limited results. Even worse, they can prompt workers with caregiving responsibilities to look for a new employer that’s more supportive of family caregivers. On the other hand, programs that maximize flexibility and comprehensiveness achieve the best results for employers and employees alike. Here’s how:

  1. They maximize employee choice. This is the hallmark of a flexible backup care program—one built to deliver strong results. Flexibility means employees have access to an extensive network of vetted, high-quality providers (both center-based and in-home options) but they’re also free to go out of network to use providers and facilities they know and trust. Legacy programs often force employees to stay within their limited networks and even use facilities that are owned or operated by the program provider itself. Flexibility also means employees have the option of using their own privately secured caregiver to provide care and to be reimbursed accordingly when they do so.
  1. They’re inclusive of all types of employee needs. Yes, backup child care is a vital benefit. After all, the U.S. Census Bureau says that 43% of children in the U.S. have a parent who works a nontraditional schedule. However, truly effective backup care programs address all types of care including adult care (for spouses, parents and other adult relatives), self care, and even pet care. Comprehensive programs are especially helpful to employees who work extended hours or take on shift work unexpectedly (nurses, for example), those who travel for business, and those who have to deal with emergency situations (firefighters, law enforcement, etc.). By offering comprehensive backup care options, rather than child care alone, employers provide a more equitable solution that can improve the lives and productivity of all employees.
  1. They’re accessible 24/7 and provide personal assistance. Programs that provide access only to an online database of caregivers simply aren’t helpful enough. The most effective backup care programs provide assistance at all times, as disruptions in care arrangements typically occur at the most inconvenient times: a child becomes ill in the middle of the night, a snowstorm closes school just ahead of the day’s start, caregivers call in sick a few hours before their start time, etc. That’s why backup care programs must provide employees with immediate assistance around the clock and 365 days a year, and this assistance should come from live care representatives who are reachable by telephone and online at all times. These representatives should be highly trained to assess employees’ needs and help them find the best care for their individual needs.

The Business Benefits Abound
This flexible model of backup care delivers a powerful array of hard and soft returns on your investment including reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, improved employee engagement and health, and greater retention of your precious talent.

That last item is worth the price of investment on its own, as the number of employees in the U.S. who are taking on family caregiving responsibilities continues to escalate. And with the concurrent rise in the number of people working nontraditional schedules, caregiving and backup care will become hot button issues in the war to win and retain talent.

Having access to dependable backup care isn’t a mere perk for these growing ranks of workers. It’s a lifeline enabling them to meet the demands of their jobs and their family obligations.

If you’d like to learn more about implementing a highly flexible and comprehensive backup care program designed to meet the unique needs of your unique population , contact us here or call us at (833) 282-3366.