Family Benefits: What Employees Want and Need

What keeps employees in the workforce? What motivates them to stay at their present job—or begin to search elsewhere?

Family benefits are a big draw and can be the deciding factor in employee satisfaction with their job. Recent data reveal that the vast majority of employees think that family benefits matter a great deal, and more than half would be willing to leave their job for one with a more robust benefit package.1

The importance of family benefits became clear during the pandemic, when caregivers—primarily women—were forced to leave their jobs after schools closed and childcare was not available. Of the 1.1 million people in the U.S. who left the workforce in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, 80% were women.2

Globally, the story is much the same. In Brazil, more than 6.5 million women left the workforce during the pandemic. In Italy, the percentage of women in the workforce decreased from 56.5% to a record low of 47.5%. Even South Korea, recognized as handling the pandemic well, found that women accounted for 60% of the 1.8% in unemployment.3

child looking for attention from busy working parents

What can be done to bring women back to work—and to make the workplace more inclusive for all? A good starting point is to look at the data, which paint a clear picture of what employees are looking for and where employers fall short. Childcare assistance, paid parental leave and flexible return-to-work scheduling are all benefits that employees want, yet they are not available on a large scale. According to a 2021 survey by Ovia Health, 74% of employees want childcare assistance, but only 10% indicated their employer supported them with onsite childcare or assistance finding affordable, quality childcare. Similarly, 84% want paid parental leave, while about a third receive it with their jobs, and 85% would prefer a flexible return-to-work schedule, with about a quarter of employees having this benefit.1

For employers, these findings can serve as a wake-up call to reevaluate their benefits with an eye toward ensuring employees have access to and are aware of benefits they need. What’s more, taking these steps is also good for business. Companies that invest in family-friendly benefits have seen 5.5 times more revenue growth, greater innovation, higher talent retention and increased productivity, and 90% of employers offering family medical leave believe that it had a positive or neutral effect on profitability, productivity and morale.4,5

Along with making benefits more robust, employers have become increasingly aware of the importance of ensuring that their benefit approach is equitable and inclusive for all members of their team, including BIPOC and LGBTQ+ employees. Employers are working to build better alignment between benefits and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts to tailor benefits to the diverse needs of their workforce.

Finally, employers have broadened their reach beyond the United States to their employees worldwide. This has proven to be no easy task. In addition to meeting employee needs, employers must balance legal factors with market trends and varying cultural norms. Recognizing the need for a collaborative approach to develop an effective global benefit strategy, employers are forming teams with representatives from HR, legal, finance and IT.

Creating inclusive family benefits and a benefit approach for all employees worldwide are no longer optional steps for employers. They are key to building a workplace for the 21st century. For an in-depth look, check out The Family Benefits Bundle.

Read and share our additional “Family Bundle” related blog posts on Family Building and Caregiver Support: