Our work lives and home lives used to have a high degree of separation, but the rise in remote work has quickly dissolved those barriers. While working from home may have benefits like reducing commute times, there are some drawbacks too.
As the pandemic sent office workers home, working parents and primary caretakers found themselves juggling simultaneous roles on the home front while also balancing their performance at work.
Some employers may not be aware of these challenges, which means now is the time for parents and caretakers to demand more, different, and better benefits from their employers. Here are a few benefits that can support employee well-being and help restore work/life balance.
1. Flexible schedules
Now that our work and home lives are more integrated, keeping to a strict 9-5 work schedule may be hard to commit to. But organizations have learned that remote work can be highly effective and are using tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams to give employees the ability to work asynchronously. Talk to your boss about whether you can devote certain hours to team meetings and collaborative work while otherwise keeping your own schedule.
2. Negotiate paid time off
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, more than one–third of private industry workers received 10 to 14 days of paid vacation after one year of service. Though offering two to four weeks of paid vacation may be the default for organizations, you don’t have to accept the default offer. Your personal time should take priority too. Start by reviewing the company’s paid time off policy as well as get an understanding of good times of the year to take a vacation. (It will be different for every industry).
3. Family care benefits
A recent CNBC report stated that large organizations such as General Motors, Apple, and Amazon are partnering with daycare providers to offer even more affordable, backup childcare solutions. Top companies are also offering innovative benefits like tutoring stipends to help parents with homeschooling duties. But it’s not only parents who can benefit from additional family care benefits. According to the same report, BestBuy expanded their caregiver pay benefit to include, siblings, in-laws, grandchildren, grandparents, and children 18 and older. The benefit had previously only included a spouse or domestic partner, parent, and children under the age of 18.
4. A mother’s room
If you’re a new mother who’s going into the office, even just a few days a week, ask whether your company provides a mother’s (also known as a lactation, breastfeeding, or nursing room) so that you have a private and comfortable place to pump. You are entitled to this space, granted by an amendment to the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).
5. Paid family leave
The lack of paid family leave in the U.S. is a hot-button issue, but it can and (hopefully soon) will be rectified, giving you all the more reason to advocate for it with your employers. Currently, all companies must offer unpaid maternity or paternity leave to their employees, but only a small percentage of employers offer paid leave. The law requires that companies give 12 weeks of unpaid leave for mothers or fathers, depending on the size of the company and how long they have been employed. Without paid family leave, many employees simply can’t afford to take the time off they need. So employees: Speak up and make your employers step up.
Other benefits employees should look for
Inc. Magazine recognized workplaces for outstanding perks and benefits that are sure to benefit working parents. The list included innovative benefits for things such as:
- Child care: FinTech company Fourlane awards eligible employees up to $1,000 per week to cover child care and tutoring for as long as needed.
- Elderly care: In 2020, document processing company Hyperscience began reimbursing employees up to $72,000 per year for employees’ dependents
- Sabbatical: Advertising startup TripleLift rewards employees with five-year tenure with a $5,000 stipend and a one month paid sabbatical that can help fund additional time off for working parents.
And that’s just a few examples from the list that we hope to see more organizations emulate (but don’t forget to use these examples to advocate for these things if they apply to you, too).
Total compensation looks after you totally
Flexible work arrangements, mental health support, increased child care, and paid parental leave are just a few of the benefits that are on the rise. The good news is that employers are more receptive than ever to employees’ shifting needs. Make sure to speak up for yourself.