Family-friendly benefits gaining momentum
For Diane Lim, working a full-time job as an economist and a mom meant earning less than her male counterparts. And with four children at home, maintaining the same schedule as a male economist was very hard to do.
“One thing is clear,” she says. “Women for decades have put up with lower pay to get more flexibility. I always thought it was a tradeoff.”
Now vice president of economic research for the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board — while her youngest child applies to college — Lim has not only seen an increase in the pay gap but also the expansion of family-friendly benefits.
Fertility services and on-site childcare are among the family-friendly perks and benefits reportedly being offered at an increasing rate, according to a new survey conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
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The association polled 577 human resources and benefits professionals, trustees, administrators and industry experts from nearly 20 different industries at companies ranging in size from fewer than 50 to more than 10,000 employees and saw a gaining popularity in family-oriented perks.
“Employers are seeing the value in offering this type of benefit,” says Julie Stich, director of research at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
Nearly a quarter of large companies polled offer fertility services to more than 500 of their employees as part of the overall healthcare package. This type of benefit is low-cost impact for employers while it is well-received by employees.
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“While each specific case might cost money, there’s a very small percentage of your employee population who will use it,” Stich says. “It depends on who is going to take advantage. If you have a younger population, it’s something to consider.”
Younger employees are also looking for on-site or near-site childcare, which 8% of the participants polled said their companies offer.
Hyland, an Ohio-based business software firm, has a Montessori-based daycare center for employees’ children. The company’s on-site center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and takes children as young as 6 weeks up to pre-K ages.
Kathleen Vegh, manager of employee engagement, has two children in the center. “As a working mom, I never looked at other daycare options,” she said.
Hyland employees pay a fee per child, and Vegh says the cost is comparable to other facilities. However, parents can drop by during the day or see their kids trick-or-treating in the office.
“We want to care for our employees in the ways that matter to them,” Vegh says.
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Like with Hyland and the survey, the growing trend suggests employers are looking for in-kind benefits to improve their employees’ work-life balance. Lim says this isn’t a surprise that employers are moving toward family-friendly benefits.
“Businesses have to compete for the most productive workers and they have to stand out, especially to high-achieving women,” Lim says. “A woman is more likely to want to work for a company that shows they understand the work-life balance that all working moms struggle with. It builds loyalty.”