We’re only nearing the halfway mark, but 2018 has already been a big year for employee benefits. Whether part of a strategic plan, byproduct of corporate tax breaks or a little bit of both, we have seen a number of exciting examples of companies getting serious about supporting working parents.
So, while it might be a little early for official “Best of 2018” accolades, we’re loving the innovative perks and benefits designed to create workplaces that are responsive to employee needs.
Here are some of our favorite new benefits and perks helping to chip away at the notion that we must choose work over family … and getting us one step closer to choosing work and family. We’ll call them the 10 Best Benefits and Perks for Working Parents (so far) in 2018.
1. Paid leave — Longer and broader paid parental leave continues to trend up this year, with more and more employers covering both mothers and fathers, after birth, adoption, surrogacy and for foster care. In addition, many employers are now also expanding how and when employees can take their leave, often allowing leave to be taken consecutively or flexibly during the first year or so. But that’s not where the creativity ends. Some employers, like PricewaterhouseCoopers, are offering an additional leave allowance for parents who already have a child at home. And Amazon offers a Leave Share benefit where employees may share their paid leave with a working spouse or partner whose employer does not offer it.
2. “School’s Out” care programs — As any parent can attest, the school and work calendars can feel comically mismatched. In response, employers like Genentech are getting creative with on-site care for those hard-to-fill gaps in coverage, particularly for employee’s school-aged children. Their suite of care benefits even includes a company-run summer camp, and other “School’s Out” programs. For those who can’t swing an on-site summer camp, fear not – there are plenty of ways to help employees find and manage their summer care arrangements.
3. Business trip coverage — A few years ago, we began to see organizations offering nursing mothers the chance to bring baby along for business travel. Increasingly this year, more organizations, like USAA, are offering reimbursement for travel-related child care to all employees. Professional conferences, from the entertainment industry to academia, have stepped up to make finding child care in a new city more manageable for parents who travel for work.
4. Peer-nominated awards — Peer review time has taken on a new meaning at American Express, where they’re combatting caregiving stigma in the workplace by honoring those who provide it. Each year, peers nominate a working parent/caregiver from American Express. The winner receives “special recognition and 10,000 Blue Awards points, redeemable for merchandise and gift cards.”
5. Return to work programs — Count Salesforce and Amazon among the companies now offering innovative programs that help new moms and dads ease back into work following parental leave. Salesforce allows employees to return to work on a four-days/week schedule for four weeks. And Amazon’s Ramp Back program lets new birth mothers or primary caregivers choose up to eight weeks of flexible time and a range of part-time options.
6. Backup care — Increasingly, organizations are recognizing that backup care – for children and adults – is a must-have benefit. Companies like Akamai are reaping the benefits of less stressed, more productive employees, while working toward greater employee diversity and higher retention and recruitment rates.
7. Lactation support — Companies offering a breast milk shipping service for traveling, nursing mothers made headlines a few years ago, and we’re happy to see more organizations continue to follow this trend in 2018. In addition, more companies are providing access to lactation consultants. Another great perk: at EY, free hospital-grade pumps are part of the benefits to new mothers.
8. Peer support groups — More organizations are facilitating support groups for parents, like the adoption support group at General Mills, and PwC’s Mentoring Moms program, where veteran moms help guide new moms. And HubSpot has created a #parents Slack channel where employees can connect and bond with one another.
9. Shower “gifts” — Children are expensive. (Or haven’t you heard?) Among the many ways to help employees adjust to parenthood is by padding their wallets with a little extra cash. From Salesforce’s $250 take-out meal allowances, to Facebook’s $4,000 in baby cash, to Ultimate Software’s $300 per child to help pay for extracurricular activities, working parents are loving help with the “incidentals.”
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10. Maternity concierge services — Fifth Third Bank was recently featured in Fast Company for its concierge services, which help working mothers with everything they need to manage outside of work – from nursery décor to purchasing a breast pump, to dry cleaning. The program aims to better support working mothers and keep them on track for leadership roles now and in the future.
On the surface, some of these benefits may sound elite or out of touch with what families really need. But that, of course, would only be a surface-level view.
When the latest data from the tech world suggests more than 80% of women who had kids at their current jobs felt pressured to return early from maternity leave, it’s clear why programs that demystify parental leave and normalize caregiving are so important.