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.