Why Employees Need Flexible Backup Care Choices

Why Employees Need Flexible Backup Care Choices

Not all backup care programs are created equal.

Some programs offer only child care solutions, for example, overlooking the vast number of employees who shoulder elder care responsibilities. Other programs fail to provide self-care and pet care solutions, and many programs offer little to no flexibility regarding copay amounts and the number of times employees can use the benefit in a given period.

One of the most significant shortcomings of many backup care programs concerns placement restrictions: employees are encouraged to place their loved ones into specific centers or with specific in-network providers. In other words, employees aren’t given an option to choose their backup caregivers … And that can feel downright scary.

Flexible Options Maximize Choice and Peace of Mind
The main purpose of a backup care program is to keep employees on the job and productive—even when their regular care arrangements break down. Backup care programs give employees confidence and peace of mind precisely because of the choices and options they provide. When employees are encouraged to use only centers that are owned or operated by the backup care program provider itself, or that are strictly in the provider’s network, it actually undermines the purpose and effectiveness of the program, i.e. they may be less comfortable using the program and opt instead to miss work.

Flexible Options Maximize Choice and Peace of Mind

A strong backup care program offers employees a wide array of choices among vetted, high-quality caregivers (both center-based and in-home caregivers, as well as those who are in and out of the network) along with the option to use their own privately secured caregiver, such as a babysitter, friend or even family member to provide care. This unbiased, flexible program model has quickly gained favor because many employees feel far more comfortable leaving children, elders and pets with caregivers they know and trust.

The connection between flexible options and peace of mind has been made clear again and again by feedback LifeCare has received over the years from our clients’ employees and our clients themselves. Here are just a few examples (with the individual’s confidentiality maintained):

  • “I always prefer to have my family help me with backup care. They know my children, how they eat and how I want them disciplined.”
  • “Great to be able to use a trusted person who my kids know and who is familiar with their routine.”
  • “I really like the flexibility of using the friends and family option. It makes the transition to work very easy when you have family helping you out.”
  • “The flexibility (of your program) gets our employees to work with peace of mind.”

If your organization hasn’t implemented a backup care program yet, you can read about five compelling reasons to do so here. You can also read about the hard and soft ROI backup care programs deliver here. And you can learn how to secure budget for a backup care program here.

If you’d like to learn more about implementing a high-quality, highly flexible backup care program, contact us here or call us at (833) 282-3366.



Infographic: Backup Care Utilization at a Glance

This infographic displays statistics around backup care program use by eligible LifeCare members in 2018.

If you’d like to learn more about implementing a backup care program or how LifeCare can create a custom program for your employees’ unique needs, contact us here 
or call us at (833) 282-3366.

3 Tips for Securing a Backup Care Budget

3 Tips for Securing a Backup Care Budget

One of HR’s biggest challenges each year is deciding how to spend its employee benefits budget. While traditional benefits (medical insurance, 401k plans, etc.) remain a good investment, emerging benefits—such as backup care programs—are increasingly important to attracting and retaining talent.

In fact, research from Willis Towers Watson shows 79% of employers agree that emerging benefits programs enrich their traditional offerings by adding greater personalization, 75% say these programs appeal to a multigenerational workforce, 67% say they attract new talent, and 65% say they support employee retention.

Backup care programs, in particular, deliver a powerful array of hard and soft returns on investment, as we outlined in a previous post, including reduced absenteeism/presenteeism, greater productivity, higher employee engagement, and improved health of employees who act as caregivers.

The demand for backup care programs is mounting rapidly as our population ages and workers from every generation are or soon will be caring for children, aging loved ones or both simultaneously. As a result of these trends, more and more HR departments are making the case for backup care to their senior management.

Making the Case at Your Organization

Making the Case at Your Organization
Here are three suggestions to help you build a compelling case for backup care:

  1. Survey your employees. To show that your organization has a demonstrable need to support its caregivers, survey your workers about their caregiving status, situations and requirements. Ask whom they provide care to, how often, what their main challenges are, and what kinds of assistance and expertise they would value most. Regarding backup care specifically, ask how often their regular care arrangements break down, what they do when breakdowns occur, whether they have reliable backup care arrangements in place, and whether they use their own individual caregiver such as babysitter, friend, neighbor or family member as paid caregivers. Remember that many people don’t like to identify as “caregivers” for a variety of reasons, and many are reluctant to open up about problems that arise due to caregiving responsibilities, so be sure to make your survey anonymous. And the more thorough your survey, the better able you’ll be to select a program that suits your employees’ specific needs once you’ve gotten budgetary approval.
  2. Get clarity on the types of backup care needed. Large, multigenerational workforces actually provide a range of care—to children, to older family members and loved ones, to pets, and even to themselves. Use your survey to discern which types of backup care employees will utilize and appreciate most. Younger workforces may have a greater need for backup child care, for example, while older workforces may provide more care to aging loved ones. If your company has a significant population of individuals in the sandwich generation, you’ll need a more comprehensive backup care program.
  3. Gather and present trusted third-party data on the value of backup care and caregiver support programs. You can find data online through a variety of reliable sources including the Pew Research Center, the Family Caregiver Alliance, MetLife, AARP, and the National Council on Aging, to name just a few. You can also search this blog for posts about family caregiving and backup care; we’ve written quite a few pieces that contain recent statistics and links to useful resources. Data that can be especially compelling to your senior management may include the growing demand for employees to act as family caregivers, the generational impact of caregiving responsibilities, and the specific hard and soft business benefits of backup care (the money it saves employers, the productivity gains, the reduced turnover, stress alleviation, etc.).

LifeCare can help you build an evidence-based case

Looking for assistance in building an evidenced-based case? LifeCare can help! With 35+ years of experience and expertise, we’ve helped organizations of all kinds support employee caregivers, providing them with information, guidance and referrals that ease their caregiving burdens and keep them healthy and productive. We’ll customize a plan to your specific needs that includes projected savings and ways your business will be positively impacted.

The case for offering a backup care benefit has never been stronger, as we detailed in a recent post on why your company needs backup care now. With all this in mind, it’s the ideal time to consider the many ways a backup care program would benefit your company.

If you’d like assistance building a case for backup care contact us here or call us at (833) 282-3366.


Why You’ll Lose Talent Without Caregiving Benefits

Why You’ll Lose Talent Without Caregiving Benefits

If you don’t have strong caregiving support programs in place, plan to lose valuable talent to employers who do. And it won’t just be the rank and file who jump ship. You’ll lose upper-level managers and even C-suite executives.

This warning to U.S. businesses is a key theme of Harvard Business School’s (HBS) report, “The Caring Company,” which we wrote about previously here and here.

“When it’s too hard to provide care and work at the same time, people end up leaving the workforce,” the report stated. In fact, nearly one-third of employees surveyed by HBS voluntarily left a job due to caregiving responsibilities. Notably, upper-level managers, senior leaders and highly paid men were most likely to report that their jobs and productivity are affected by caregiving.

“But the flip side is a very real incentive,” noted the report. “If you, as an employer, provide benefits that allow people to live full lives and take care of their families … your talent pool opens up tremendously, because there are millions of people who want to work, while providing for their families at the same time.”

The upshot is clear: caregiving benefits significantly impact talent acquisition and retention, and companies that offer these benefits have a distinct advantage in the escalating war for talent.

4 Programs Employees Absolutely Love

4 Programs Employees Absolutely Love
Since the 1980s, LifeCare has championed caregiving solutions as powerful talent acquisition and retention boosters. The HBS report emphatically affirms our position and the growing importance of caregiving solutions to the future of U.S. businesses.

Based on more than three decades of experience, we’ve found there are four caregiving-related programs you should strongly consider implementing—programs that our clients’ employees have consistently rated as most helpful to them. These programs are:

  1. Backup Care—This industry-leading program helps employees find and pay for reliable temporary care when their normal care arrangements fall through, so they can get to work. LifeCare’s program is particularly known for its quality and flexibility: it covers children, elder loved ones, pets and self care; it gives employees access to a fully vetted national network of caregivers as well as a robust selection of out-of-network options; with the ability to schedule care either via phone or online, 24/7. In 2018, 87% of our clients’ employees who used Backup Care Connection said the program reduced their stress levels, 85% said it increased their productivity and 87% said it made them more loyal to their employer. On average, the program saved each user more than 16 hours per use.
  2. Elder Care Referrals & Counseling—Employees have 24/7 online and telephonic access to highly trained and credentialed elder care specialists, as well as confirmed referrals to elder care providers nationwide and an array of educational materials, interactive content, webinars and specialized tools such as our Adult Caregivers Kit. In 2018, 69% of individuals who used Elder Care referrals and counseling services said they increased their productivity, 82% said they made them more loyal, and 99% said they’d recommend the program to their coworkers. On average, the program saved each user roughly 14 hours per use.
  3. Senior Caregiver Support Program—LifeCare’s comprehensive program provides each employee with a full in-person needs assessment of their aging loved one’s home and condition by a Senior Care Manager, followed by a detailed care recommendation plan based on the evaluation, and 24/7 support from senior care specialists. Our client organizations report a number of benefits including reduced absenteeism, improved physical and mental health of their employees and less turnover due to burnout. Last year, 78% of those who used our Senior Care Management Program said it reduced their stress levels, 73% said it increased their productivity and 85% said it made them more loyal to their employer. On average, the program saved users about 13 hours per use.
  4. Mothers at Work Program—This award-winning program supports mothers so they can successfully transition back to work while breastfeeding. It provides the option for a breast milk shipping service, so working mothers who travel can safely ship their milk home, along with 24/7 access to lactation consultants who offer guidance on breastfeeding challenges and concerns. The program also provides mothers with prescreened referrals to local lactation resources, discounted breast pumps and a unique kit filled with free breastfeeding products and information. In 2018, 93% of those who used our Mothers at Work Program said it reduced their stress levels, 56% said it increased their productivity and 77% said it raised their loyalty level. On average, the program saved users about 5 hours per use.

Employees of all ages and at all levels need your assistance in meeting their mounting caregiving demands. Helping your organization’s caregivers is not only critical to their wellbeing and success, but to your organization’s as well.

If you’d like to learn more about implementing caregiver support benefits or other results-oriented work-life programs, contact us here or call us at 866-675-3751.

Quantifying the ROI of Backup Care

Quantifying the ROI of Backup Care

Want to give your company an edge in attracting and hiring talent? Implement a backup care program.

That’s the scoop from a recent Motley Fool article, which cites backup care as one of five less-commonplace benefits that are truly valued by prospective hires. “Child care is not only an expensive prospect for workers, but also an unpredictable one,” the article states. “All it takes is for a nanny to call in sick, and any employee could suddenly be left in the lurch. Similarly, parents who use public school as child care are often thwarted by random half-days or days off. That’s why offering backup child care is a great benefit to entice workers with kids.”

In addition to enticing talent, you can expect to reap an array of hard and soft returns from a backup care program—and they can really add up.

The Hard ROI of Backup Care
The hard ROI of backup care (also known as direct benefits) are results you can attribute directly to implementing the program. Hard ROI is easier to quantify than soft ROI, and it’s often measured by surveying program users. Hard ROI includes:

  • Reduced absenteeism/presenteeismAlmost half of all working parents miss an average of four days of work at least once every six months due to child care breakdowns, and workers who care for aging loved ones miss more than 126 million workdays per year. A high-quality backup care program reduces these caregiving-related absences, as well as the presenteeism created by caregivers who show up but spend part of their workday dealing with caregiving breakdowns and emergencies.
  • Decreased stress—Roughly 90% of caregivers cite stress as having the most impact on their lives, so reducing their stress should be a priority. With access to a backup care program, employees know their loved ones are well cared for even when their regular arrangements fall through, which gives them peace of mind and reduces stress.
  • Increased productivity—On average, LifeCare’s Backup Care Connection program saved users 20 hours each in 2018. In essence, we’ve given them back half a work week—hours they would have lost to handling caregiving emergencies or providing care themselves. Backup Care Connection users tell us in surveys and quality checks that the program makes them more productive.
  • Stronger talent retention—Offering backup care not only attracts talent but also keeps valued talent in your workforce. As the Motley Fool article pointed out, backup care is currently a “less common” benefit but that won’t last for long as more and more employers add it to their benefits offerings. In the meantime, you can take advantage of this situation, improve the strength of your employment brand, and get a leg up on your competitors.
  • Improved morale and loyalty—Having access to backup care makes employees feel valued, not just for the work they do but as people. Employers who offer backup care are acknowledging that employees have important responsibilities outside of the workplace. That’s a strong foundation for building morale and loyalty—but doing so requires a high-quality program. Inferior programs can actually undermine morale and loyalty. When shopping for a backup care program, be sure you know how each program is rated by actual users. LifeCare’s Backup Care Connection, for example, has a 97% satisfaction rating.

Here are two additional indicators that a backup care program will deliver hard results for your organization: according to recent LifeCare surveys, 81% of individuals who used LifeCare’s Backup Care Connection in 2018 used the program multiple times … and 99% said they’ll use it again.

The Soft ROI of Backup Care

The Soft ROI of Backup Care
Soft ROI (also referred to as indirect benefits) is less easy to quantify but it’s no less significant. The soft ROI of backup care includes:

  • Improved health—61% of primary elder caregivers say their own health takes a backseat to that of their loved one, and 21% say their health has declined since becoming a caregiver, according to Transamerica Institute’s 2017 Study of Caregivers. Left unchecked, these issues can result in hefty costs to employers and employees alike. Backup care is invaluable in combating and even preventing the stress and other ill effects of caregiving, which can equate to substantial savings in healthcare costs.
  • Improved engagement—60% of employees who serve as family caregivers have reported that caregiving negatively impacts their engagement at work in at least one way (and often more than one way), says AARP’s most recent comprehensive Caregiving in America report. These negative impacts include forcing them to cut back on their working hours, taking a leave of absence, and receiving warnings about their performance or attendance. A backup care program keeps employees engaged in their work and makes negative on-the-job impacts less likely to arise in the first place.

 Choosing the Right Program

Choosing the Right Program
As with all voluntary and work-life benefits, you want the maximum return on your backup care investment. That means selecting a program with four very specific attributes:

  1. Flexibility and Comprehensiveness—The ideal program should encompass all forms of backup care (child care, senior care, pet care and even self care). Employees should be able to reach live care representatives 24/7/365, have access to a presecreened national network of caregivers and a variety of online resources. Another important feature is allowing employees to use caregivers or babysitters they are already familiar with, even trusted family members and friends to provide backup care. Bottom line, flexibility and comprehensiveness are key to keeping utilization high, which in turn maximizes ROI.
  2. Care Options for Everyone—Again, in order to deliver the highest returns, your program should encompass backup care resources for children, older loved ones, pets and even employees themselves. Many programs focus only on one or two of these groups.
  3. Ease of Use—Employees should have multiple access points into the program such as a toll-free telephone number to speak directly with highly trained caregiving specialists, online access to these specialists (including mobile access and/or an app), and online/offline access to other caregiving resources including helpful videos, podcasts, guides and other resources. Additionally, employees should be able to schedule new care arrangements, check the status and details of care arrangements, submit forms for reimbursement and more, all from a single site.
  4. Personalized, End-to-End Support—In addition to the features and resources noted above, your employees should receive personalized education and assistance with ongoing parenting, senior care, pet care and self care needs. Backup care specialists should follow up on every case and ensure that employees understand all of their options and next steps. The best programs even offer discounts on related products and services.

These four attributes are essential to maximizing utilization and ROI of your program, not to mention giving employees the backup care support they so urgently need.

If you’d like to learn more about implementing a backup care program, contact us here or call us at (833) 282-3366.

2019 Top Recruiting Trends: Benefits To Attract and Retain Multi-Gen Talent

Benefits To Attract and Retain Multi-Gen Talent

“Organizations that take a strategic approach to their benefits program, leveraging benefits to recruit and retain employees, are nearly twice as likely to have more satisfied employees and to report better business performance compared with organizations that are not strategic with benefits.”

That insight comes from the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) 2018 Employee Benefits research report—and it’s something all employers need to keep in mind as the competition for talent gets even tougher in 2019, thanks to record-low unemployment, widening skills gaps and talent shortages, and shifting demographics (the influx of more Millennials and Gen Z workers).

These potent forces are transforming the composition of the workforce forever, which means employers need to attract workers from every generation to fill their talent needs in the years to come.

So how can your organization take a more strategic approach to its employee benefits in order to recruit and retain talent from all generations in the workforce today — Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Gen Z?

Simple: offer your employees a range of voluntary benefits that support their unique lifestyles and needs.

Breaking Through the Noise
People are more selective these days about which jobs they apply for based on the benefits being offered, observes a 2018 article from BenefitsPro.com. “Basic benefits like paid vacation and a 401(k) aren’t enough to break through the noise anymore. … In 2019, employers will need to focus on making their entire benefits package more enticing.”

Implementing a diversified array of cost-effective voluntary benefits not only makes your overall benefits package more enticing but it also enables you to effectively serve the unique and varied needs of every generation of workers. As the benefitsPro.com article notes, “attractive benefits can make the difference between whether a prospective employee accepts a job offer or not,” and voluntary benefits provide a cadre of solutions that can be customized to attract the talent you need.

Leverage These Five Voluntary Benefits Trends

Leverage These Five Voluntary Benefits Trends
Here are five voluntary benefits that are trending in 2019 and that are highly valued by all workers:

1. Work-life programs—While each generation may define work-life balance differently, they all desire it, notes a 2018 Forbes article. “By creating a work environment that prioritizes work-life balance, employers can save money and maintain a healthier, more productive workforce,” the article states. For a nominal cost, you can launch a comprehensive work-life program that provides your employees with 24/7 access to live specialists who are trained to deal with the full spectrum of work-life issues. Plus, the results and ROI of this type of program far exceed those of self-service programs.

2. Backup care—Inevitably, the child or elder care arrangements your employees have in place will break down at some point. Unless you have a backup care program in place, most employees will have to scramble to find alternate arrangements—and many will fail. That’s why nearly half of all working parents miss an average of four days of work at least once every six months … and workers who care for aging loved ones miss more than 126 million workdays per year. A state-of-the-art backup care program saves your company’s caregivers from the mad rush to find last-minute, alternate care. Plus, it’ll help your company slash absenteeism, presenteeism, productivity losses and stress. (See our previous post on backup care to learn about all of the business benefits it delivers.)

3. Senior care management—Workers from all generations are already (or soon will be) facing the challenge of caring for aging relatives and other loved ones. Without the right support, elder caregiving can take a heavy toll on your employees (in the form of absenteeism/presenteeism, caregiver burnout and poor health) and your organization (in lost productivity, turnover and health-related costs). A high-quality senior care management program provides a spectrum of invaluable services such as in-person assessments of elders, their homes and potential care facilities; detailed care recommendations; 24/7 telephonic and online services for the employee; and more.

Senior Care Management

4. Breast milk shipping—In 2017, more than 65% of mothers with children under six years old were part of the U.S. labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A growing number of employers now offer a breast milk shipping service to their nursing mothers who travel as part of their jobs. You can provide additional support to your organization’s working mothers by giving them 24/7 access to lactation consultants, discounted breast pumps, and prescreened referrals to other lactation resources, as does LifeCare’s award-winning Mother’s@Work program.

5. Financial wellness—Employees spend approximately 150 hours of their time at work annually worrying about money, according to a 2017 Mercer study. Whether it’s unpaid student loans, credit card debt, healthcare-related expenses, or saving for retirement, every generation stresses out about finances. You can help put your employees’ minds at ease and get them on track financially by providing them with reliable financial wellness services including access to financial counselors, financial planning professionals and other resources designed to educate and empower them. A 2018 Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey asked employees what would improve their financial wellness most; they cited practical guidance that would “focus on the single next thing to do—one step at a time,” along with helping them save and invest for the future. So be particularly sure your financial wellness offerings cover those topics.

By incorporating these voluntary benefits trends into your talent acquisition strategy, you’ll cut through the noise of the marketplace and draw multigenerational talent to your brand for years to come.

As always, contact us here or call us at 1-(866) 675-3751 if you’d like to discuss anything you’ve read here or how LifeCare can serve your organization.

Which Work-Life Model Is Right for Your Organization?

Work-Life Model

For roughly four decades, work-life programs have improved the lives of workers and strengthened their employers’ organizations.

Throughout the years studies have shown that work-life programs help people integrate their work and personal responsibilities more efficiently, reduce their stress levels and remain healthier and happier overall. For organizations, work-life programs raise productivity and engagement levels while reducing turnover and burnout.

The benefits of work-life programs were highlighted again earlier this year when the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a report concluding that federal employees who take part in work-life programs are more likely to exceed expectations and better advance their agency’s mission. Ninety-six percent of the 64,000+ OPM survey respondents said they want to make use of at least one of their agency’s work-life programs.

So the question for today’s employers isn’t whether work-life programs are a wise investment. The question is … Which work-life model is right for your organization?

Two Basic Choices, One Big Difference

When it comes to work-life programs, employers can choose from two basic models: 1) the self-service model or 2) the call center model.

The self-service model gives employees access to online work-life resources such as articles, guidebooks and searchable databases (containing child care organizations, locations and contact information, for example). With this model, employees act as their own researchers and advocates, and they alone must find and utilize the resources that will help them most.

Call Center

The call center model, on the other hand, offers employees the same online resources but it also provides them with 24/7 access to a call center staffed by knowledgeable live specialists who are trained to answer questions, offer guidance and personally assist employees in resolving their issues. Call center specialists ensure that employees are aware of all of the helpful resources available to them and that they utilize the best possible resources for their needs. This is especially important, as the needs of many employees are complex and fraught with critical decisions to be made. Having the ability to call specialists 24/7 to seek consultation and guidance reduces employees’ stress, saves them time and keeps them focused and productive on the job.

Here are a few examples of typical work-life issues that impact employees and how they would go about resolving them under each model:

A backup care emergency—One of your employees has a special-needs toddler and her regular child care provider has suddenly taken ill. Under the self-service model, the employee searches an online database of alternate child care providers, hoping to find ones that are certified to handle special-needs children and within a reasonable distance of her commute. She then contacts providers until she finds one she’s happy with and makes the necessary arrangements. Or, if the search becomes too difficult or time-consuming, she may give up and choose to stay home from work.

Under the call center model, your employee can contact a highly trained specialist, day or night, to help her find reliable care. After learning the details of the situation, the specialist does in-depth research to find reliable care that’s available when the employee needs it and calls back to present the options. The specialist can even make the care reservation for your employee. This unbiased, personalized support is a relief during what can be a very stressful situation, where there’s a small window dictating whether your employee will be able to get care and get to work.

Breastfeeding Mom

Breastfeeding concerns—One of your employees is a soon-to-be or new mother and is feeling overwhelmed about breastfeeding her newborn. In addition, the stress of balancing breastfeeding and working can be a big challenge. Under the self-service model, she searches an online database of articles and guidebooks that may or may not address her specific concerns.

Under the call center model, your employee has 24/7, one-on-one access to certified lactation consultants to help her through challenges, answer questions and address concerns. This level of personalized assistance offers unparalleled peace of mind, especially for new parents.

 Eldercare challenges—One of your employees is caring for his aging father who is suffering from the beginnings of dementia. Under the self-service model, he searches for materials about the condition and how he needs to prepare to take care of his father’s changing needs. Again, these materials may or may not address his specific needs and challenges.

Under the call center model, this employee can connect with a senior care expert about all the challenges he is facing. The personal touch and tailored support can be a tremendous relief during a time that can be upsetting, confusing and overwhelming, allowing your employee to make informed decisions for his loved one’s care.

Greater Support Pays Serious Dividends

Obviously, the call center model offers advantages over the self-service model. Being able to talk with live specialists means employees get the help they need faster and with less stress than when they have to act as their own researchers and advocates. This increases program utilization and ROI—not to mention satisfaction and engagement levels. Employees also feel more supported, respected and cared-for when they have access to live specialists.

In 2018 alone, LifeCare’s work-life programs (the call center model) saved clients’ employees an average of nearly 13 hours per call—that’s time they would have spent resolving their issues, often during work hours—and 82% of employees say we reduced their stress levels. In addition, 72% of our members said our programs increased their overall productivity while 80% reported an increase in employee loyalty.

If you’d like to discuss how a comprehensive work-life program could serve your organization and its people, contact us here or call us at 1-(866) 675-3751.

The Importance of Having a Diverse & Inclusive Benefits Offering

The Importance of Having a Diverse & Inclusive Benefits Offering

Diversity and inclusion are good for business—if you’re into profitability, growth and innovation, that is.

“Organizations with inclusive cultures are two times as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes,” according to a recent article published by Inc.

Indeed, the correlation between positive business outcomes and diversity and inclusion (D&I) has been substantiated again and again by researchers such as McKinsey & Company (check out its Delivering through diversity study) and Deloitte (see its Global Human Capital Trends report). Even so, as the Inc. piece observed, while 71% of organizations aspire to have an inclusive culture, many struggle to achieve this goal.

One major stumbling block tripping them up: failure to align employee benefits with their commitment to D&I.

Inclusivity Extends Beyond Gender and Race

Your company’s hiring practices, employee development/promotion policies, and leadership principles are all crucial elements of your commitment to D&I. But they can be seriously undermined by poorly conceived and curated benefits.

“Good work on diversity and inclusion can be undone by benefits that do not align with diversity,” declares PricewaterhouseCoopers in Inclusion and Diversity – how employee benefits can show you mean what you say. “If we only give employees leave when their child is born, but not when they adopt a child, what message does this send? Getting (benefits) design wrong may turn our messages upside down.”

Inclusivity Extends Beyond Gender and Race

That’s a message worth heeding, especially when updating or enhancing your employee benefits (something you should be doing on a regular basis to bolster your talent attraction and retention initiatives). When rethinking benefits, employers often consider adding programs that enhance gender and racial inclusiveness. Of course, this is absolutely essential. However, they frequently overlook programs that are inclusive of another important group: their employees’ family members—children, elder loved ones, even their pets.

By implementing programs that address the needs of all family members, you’re showing workers in no uncertain terms that you care about and respect them as people, not just as “workers.” You’re acknowledging the significant responsibilities and concerns they have beyond their work life. And you’re showing respect for their “families” no matter how they define that term—whether they’re caring for children, older family members or friends, or pets.

All of this speaks volumes about you as a respectful and inclusive employer, and it can have a powerful, positive impact on how your employment brand is perceived in the marketplace.

Inclusive Benefits Worth Investing In

Here are five benefit programs that will help employees take better care of their families and better align your company with D&I:

1. Senior Care Management ProgramsMore than 1 in 6 working Americans are assisting with the care of an elderly or disabled family member, relative or friend. Full-time workers who act as caregivers miss an average of 6 workdays per year, amounting to 126 million missed workdays each year. Giving your employees access to a senior care management program helps them understand their aging loved ones’ unique needs, identify professional caregiving resources, and assist employees in implementing care recommendations—all of which can help slash those lost workdays and the stress that comes with caregiving.

Senior Care Management

2. Backup Care Programs—These programs give employees access to reliable caregiving alternatives when their regular arrangements break down. The best backup care resources: are available 24/7/365; give employees access to live care representatives, not just an online database of caregivers; are highly flexible, allowing employees to use (and pay) trusted family members and friends as backup caregivers; and provide caregiving resources for children, older loved ones, pets, and employees themselves. The demand for backup care programs continues to escalate; in 2017, utilization of LifeCare’s Backup Care Connection program increased more than 40%, and in 2018, LifeCare’s client organizations accounted for more than 70,000 visits to alternate care providers.

3. Wellness Programs—Wellness is another area where you can be inclusive and address a wide range of issues and needs. For example, you might focus on educating employees about specific health risks. Or you could provide preventative services such as biometric screenings. Or you could concentrate on specific problems such as diabetes, nutrition, smoking cessation or financial wellness. In fact, financial wellness is such a pervasive concern these days that LifeCare saw a 74% increase in requests for financial hardship counseling in 2018. Whatever you choose to focus on, giving employees access to wellness programs will pay dividends in improved employee health and your company’s alignment to D&I.

4. Pet Care Support Programs— For many of your employees, pets are family. Pets are also good for their health, happiness and productivity. So supporting pet care for your employees—particularly those who travel frequently for business—is a smart move. Pet care support can include telephonic access to specialists who can help locate veterinarians and other professional resources; pet backup care for times when employees travel or when their regular vets aren’t available; and discounts on pet supplies and services. If you think of pet care as a “niche” issue, think again: LifeCare saw a 72% increase in requests for assistance with pet care in 2018.

Pet Care Support Programs

5. Career Development & Educational Support Programs—We’re not suggesting you pick up the educational tab for everyone in employees’ families! Your inclusiveness only needs to extend to your workers, but the career/educational programs you launch should help employees no matter what stage they’re at in their careers, what functions they work in, or whatever their professional goals are. These programs can include tuition reimbursement, student loan repayment assistance, internal coaching and mentoring programs, training workshops, and a host of other options. As research shows, career and educational support not only enhances your commitment to D&I but it also improves employee retention and the growth of your business.

Clearly, you should factor diversity and inclusion into your employee benefits. Otherwise you risk creating a serious disconnect in your messaging to win new talent, not to mention undermining the performance of your employees and your company.

As it turns out, your c-suite most likely wants greater alignment with D&I as well. A study by The Economist found that the majority of global business leaders it surveyed believe D&I promote better talent management (71%), employee satisfaction (64%), and corporate reputation (57%).

If you’d like to discuss implementing these and other work-life programs at your organization, contact us here or call us at (866) 675-3751.

Top Benefits To Help You Win the Escalating War for Talent

Benefits to Recruit & Retain Talent

Fierce. Torrid. Red hot.

No, those aren’t reviews for the latest binge-worthy Netflix series. Believe it or not, they’re terms analysts are using to describe the U.S. labor market—and they’re not just hyperbole.

For the first time on record, the number of job openings in the U.S. (6.7 million) exceeded the number of job seekers (6.3 million), according to a June Bureau of Labor Statistics report. And only a few weeks ago the Secretary of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 3.7% for the second straight month—the lowest rate since 1969.

Clearly, it’s a great time to be a job seeker in the U.S.

For employers, on the other hand, it’s a particularly challenging time. Attracting new talent and keeping your best people from jumping ship requires extra thought and creativity in a booming jobs market. One of the best things you can do to strengthen your appeal to talent, not to mention your employment brand, is to offer employees a mix of highly desirable benefits.

Benefits Are a Talent Magnet
If you doubt the drawing power of employee benefits, a 2018 Glassdoor survey found that benefits are one of the two most important considerations people undertake when researching jobs in the U.S. (Salary was the top consideration by just a few percentage points.) When asked what would make them more likely to apply for a job, roughly half of the survey’s participants cited attractive benefits and perks. Additionally, 80% of participants said they would prefer additional benefits over a pay increase.

The question is … what benefits do today’s workers really want beyond medical, dental and vision plans?

Here are five of the most desired benefits programs that will bring new talent to your door and keep your most valued current employees from leaving:

1. Flexible work hours and work-from-home options—These work-life offerings are high on the list of benefits that employees desired most, literally. A 2017 list published by Harvard Business Review (HBR) showed that 88% of workers would consider taking a lower paying job if it offered flexible work hours, while 80% said the same about a job that would let them work from home. As the HBR study reported, “flexibility and work-life balance are of utmost importance to a large segment of the workforce: parents. They value flexible hours and work-life balance above salary and health insurance in a potential job.” And it’s not just parents who value these work-life benefits, as a recent article noted: “Millennials value work-life balance higher than all other job characteristics such as job progression, use of technology and a sense of meaning at work.” Bottom line, benefits that give employees greater control of their work schedules appeal to a wide spectrum of talent.

Flexible work hours and work-from-home options
2. Financial wellness programsPwC’s 2018 Employee Financial Wellness Survey found that 54% of full-time U.S. workers are stressed about their finances and 64% are dealing with the pressures of unpaid student loans. It’s no wonder then that financial wellness programs are among the most attractive benefits to today’s workforce. In addition to offering 401(k) and retirement plans, student loan assistance and tuition assistance, a growing number of employers are providing financial education and counseling to their employees. As the PwC survey noted, “more than half of all employees want to make their own financial decisions but are looking to have someone validate that decision. Employees want a financial wellness benefit with access to unbiased counselors and help understanding and using their benefits.”

3. Backup care—A recent article by SHRM Online observed that caregiving benefits are “growing in importance as employers see opportunities to help workers take care of others.” One key way employers are mitigating the stress of caring for children and aging loved ones is by giving their employees access to a high-quality, flexible backup care program. Backup care ensures that employees have a range of reliable care alternatives at their fingertips 24/7/365 when their regular caregiving arrangements break down. The most flexible programs even allow employees to use trusted family members and friends as backup caregivers—and to pay them for their valuable time as they would any other caregiver. Showing employees that you’re committed not only to them but to the wellbeing of their families is a tremendous draw for talent, and backup care programs are a perfect example.

Backup Care
4. Paid family leave—A 2018 poll by Unum found that paid family leave is the most coveted perk among working adults: 58% of overall workers and 64% of millennials prefer it over other top options. Noting that the strain of balancing professional and family responsibilities spans all generations in the workforce, an Unum spokesperson stated, “a generous leave policy can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and a competitive edge to recruit and retain top talent.” Although there are no federal mandates, several U.S. states and municipalities have implemented variations of paid family leave laws and a growing number of employers are expanding their programs and policies.

5. Skills and Career Development—You might not immediately think of developing your people as a “benefit,” but it most certainly is—and it’s one that millennials and younger workers, in particular, seek out when considering job opportunities. The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that only 40% of millennials and 30% of Generation Z believe they have the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the workplace. The fact is not all organizations do a great job of developing their people and helping them to thrive professionally. That means you can truly set your company apart and stand out as an employer of choice by doing so.

Skills and Career Development

Communication Is Key
Providing a mix of highly desirable benefits is only part of the equation. They won’t do your talent strategy, employment brand or workers much good if nobody knows you offer them. Ample promotion and communication are vital, so be sure to tout your benefits in job ads, on your social media and on your Careers website.

And remember—promoting your benefits internally is an ongoing proposition. Employees need to be reminded on a regular basis that these programs exist and how they can be used to their greatest advantage. Continuous benefits communication will not only help attract and retain talent, it will also ensure your programs deliver the greatest return on your investment.

If you’d like to chat about implementing work-life programs to support your talent attraction and retention strategy, contact us here or call us at (866) 675-3751.

5 Reasons Your Company Needs Backup Care Now

Backup Care

Employees love having access to a high-quality, flexible backup care program and it’s easy to understand why.

First, it eliminates the stress of scrambling to find alternate child care or senior care when regular caregiving arrangements break down. With a backup care program in place, reliable care alternatives are just a phone call, email or text message away.

Second, trusted family members and friends qualify as backup caregivers and can be reimbursed for their valuable time.

Third, employees get 24/7/365 access to live care representatives, not just an online database of caregivers. These live representatives carefully assess each employee’s unique needs and help secure the most suitable care any time of the day or night.

From your employees’ perspective, what’s not to love? But backup care doesn’t only benefit your people. It’s every bit as helpful to your organization. Here are five key ways that a flexible backup care improves your company and its bottom line:

1. You’ll slash absenteeism and productivity losses. Nearly half of all working parents miss an average of four days of work at least once every six months because of child care breakdowns, which costs U.S. businesses about $4.4 billion a year in lost productivity, according to the recent Slate article, “The Corporate Case for Child Care.” And the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey reported that full-time workers who care for aging loved ones miss more than 126 million workdays per year, costing their employers $25.2 billion annually in lost productivity. Implementing a backup care program enables you to curb caregiving-related absenteeism and associated productivity losses.

Employee Loyalty & Morale

2. You’ll reduce presenteeism, stress and health problems. As noted in a 2017 report by AARP and the Northeast Business Group on Health, employees who balance caregiving and work responsibilities often fall prey to presenteeism (spending time during business hours dealing with caregiving challenges and emergencies). In addition, caregiving related stress and anxiety take a personal and professional toll on employees. “Caregiving employees often end up feeling isolated and/or depressed, and are less likely to have the time and energy to tend to their own health needs. This can, in turn, lead to illnesses such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, causing further problems for the caregiver as well as higher healthcare costs for employers.” Again, a backup care program can substantially mitigate these negative impacts by giving employees easy access to reliable care arrangements along with resources designed specifically for working parents and people caring for seniors.

3. You’ll improve employee loyalty and morale. Providing employees with work-life support programs—such as reliable backup care—has long been regarded as an effective strategy for earning their loyalty, maintaining morale and keeping them from jumping ship. A recent Forbes article underscored this correlation, reporting that one out of four workers who felt they had no support for adequate work-life balance made plans to quit in the following two years. In fact, according to the National Survey of Children’s Health, 2 million working parents quit their jobs in 2016 because of child care problems alone. The Forbes piece also noted that employees who feel they have a positive work-life balance are more dedicated by 21 percent than those who don’t think so. To reap the benefits of improved employee morale and loyalty, the article stated, an “employer only has to offer beneficial work-life services and policies that employees can choose to participate in.” One crucial way to do this is by helping your employees better balance their caregiving and work responsibilities.

4. You’ll attract and retain talent better. With U.S. unemployment rates at historically low levels, the competition to attract and retain talent is fiercer than ever. In this highly competitive environment, supportive workplaces (those that help employees effectively integrate their work and family lives) are a powerful draw for working parents and individuals caring for seniors. They seek employers who offer supportive benefits such as backup care. Even millennials want benefits that improve their lives and the lives of their family members, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce Survey. The survey also found that millennials are much more willing than other generations to change jobs to get these supportive benefits.

Working Parents

5. You’ll be addressing a growing demand. As data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show, among married-couple families with children, 61% have both parents employed. And AARP reports that one in six employees is a caregiver for an older loved one or friend. It’s no wonder that utilization of LifeCare’s Backup Care Connection program increased more than 40% last year. As the population ages and more working families require dual incomes, the need for backup child and senior caregivers is only going to grow.

Clearly, backup care is as good for your organization as it is your employees. Even employees without caregiving responsibilities will love backup care because it prevents colleagues from foisting work on them when caregiving arrangements go awry.

Now that’s a true win-win.

If you’d like to learn more about implementing a backup care program, contact us here or call us at (833) 282-3366.