Are Your Benefits Family Friendly?

The Open Enrollment season is just around the corner, and let’s face it – things are still looking pretty different this year.

Normally, we recommend focusing Open Enrollment communications exclusively on the benefits employees need to choose and not the benefits they use year-round.

This year, though, consider adding a companion piece to promote any family-friendly benefits you offer—those that support your employees’ physical, emotional, mental and financial health are more important than ever.

2019 vs. 2021

What a difference 18 months makes.

In October 2019, you might have been encouraging employees to be active participants in their physical wellbeing, working on new partnerships with fitness centers and offering new preventative services on-site—all for a workforce that rarely worked more than a day or two off-site.

Fast forward to October 2021: the scene looks much, much different.

Employees who would have never dreamt of showing up late to work are now lucky if they’ve gotten their grade school children set at the class Zoom call, won the fight of who gets the dining room table “workspace” with their spouse for the day and actually got something on their to-do list checked off by 10 a.m. Fitness centers are a distant dream, and stress levels have never been higher.

What your employees need now are employers who clearly indicate they understand today’s challenges. It’s time to highlight those family friendly benefits that have been available but maybe not had their time in the spotlight.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Most companies offer an Employee Assistance Program—often simply referred to as EAP—as part of their benefits package. Generally, EAPs provide free counseling and is a confidential, safe resource. More full-service EAPs also offer legal and financial counseling in addition to mental health services such as short-term counseling, referrals and follow-up services.

Many employees are struggling to find what “balance” looks like in their homebound work and personal lives. Communicating the support available virtually through an EAP program is not only a helpful reminder for employees; it also demonstrates company commitment and shows that you are plugged into your workforce—something that will benefit your company long after COVID-19.

Additional Sick Days, Personal Business Days, Mental Health Days, Sabbaticals

If you offer extra days of respite, let your employees know they are covered through more than just “normal” time off! Supporting employees in this way showcases a level of care and concern that is vital this year.

Flexible Work Arrangements

One of the simplest ways your organization can support employees is to provide flexibility in work arrangements to help support the challenges of e-learning needs, caregiver balances and overall mental health. Keep your employees up-to-date on your latest procedures, and be transparent as they continue to evolve or change.

Parental Leave

Pregnancy and adoption can be a stressful time for any parent. Throw in a pandemic, and the stress level rises exponentially. If you offer parental leave or a combination of FMLA and Short-Term Disability, make sure you provide a clear explanation around its usage and help alleviate an element of stress for your expecting employees.

Don’t forget: Promote any pre- or post-natal services that your company medical benefits cover, such as pregnancy education programs, free breast pumps, after-birth support groups and lactation services.

Caregiving Benefits

A big hurdle your employees may be facing right now is child and/or elder care. If you offer benefits or resources to help employees take care of young children, elderly parents or ailing spouses/partners, make sure they know about it! This can include:

  • Providing employees with the names of child care or elder care providers
  • Subsidizing a child care center or program
  • Providing access to elder care services
  • Offering family or elder care leave beyond FMLA

Your employees are looking for employer support and need to know what you offer that can help them (and their families!) stay both physically and mentally well. Demonstrating a level of care and understanding for your employees will not only encourage them to take advantage of resources that have been available to them, but it also will help build a stronger workforce with pride and loyalty for their workplace. That’s a benefit every company can get behind.

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