You’ve just wrapped up open enrollment, so if you’re like most HR pros, you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief. But before you shift your sights to 2023, now’s the time to take stock of how your open enrollment went while it’s still fresh in your mind. Did you accomplish all your goals? Do you have an important benefit that didn’t make the cut but needs to be a priority next year?
Here’s how one company delivered on an often-overlooked perk – caregiver benefits – for its employees.
Re-imagining parental benefits
Since 2016, real estate marketplace company Zillow has consistently won “Best Place to Work for Parents,” as well as a host of other accolades. In fact, 91% of employees say that Zillow is a great place to work, compared to the U.S. average of 57%.
Seventy-five percent of Zillow’s employees reported that benefits are a key reason they stay with the company. In addition to wellness perks and student loan aid, Zillow offers top-notch family and caregiver benefits. The company’s out-of-the-box offerings for caregivers include “baby bucks” to get the essentials, subsidized backup care and breast milk shipping for traveling moms.
The program was recently updated to provide more robust and inclusive benefits, including:
- Increased paid parental leave
- Expanded benefits for fertility care and family planning, and
- Updated bereavement policy to include pregnancy loss.
Parental benefits are becoming increasingly popular to help support struggling caregivers. In 2021, nearly half (48%) of U.S. workers with children under 18 in the home who quit their job cited a lack of child care as a significant factor, according to Pew Research Center.
Those who work remotely or have hybrid schedules may feel overwhelmed by trying to juggle parenting duties and work responsibilities. Supporting caregivers in the workplace can not only help increase their well-being but can help boost productivity and morale so they’re empowered to do their best work.
“Creating an inclusive environment where caregivers don’t have to choose between life and work – and instead can wrap work around their life – makes all the difference,” says Corina Kolbe, VP of Learning and Development at Zillow.
How to support caregivers in the workplace
If you want to prioritize parent benefits that support working caregivers, the first thing you need to do is get your finger on the pulse of your employees.
“Asking for feedback and taking that feedback into consideration when planning is vital to create programs that meet the needs of your unique workforce and empower parents and caregivers to make the best decisions for their families,” says Kolbe.
It’s important to figure out what your employees really need, and hone in on the needs of working caregivers. It’s also important to remember a caregiver is not always a mother or a father and that a family is not always a husband and a wife. Families all look different, so keeping benefits inclusive for all caregiver and family situations is essential.
“The journey to growing a family looks different to everyone, so ensuring your benefits are inclusive of the many ways someone may choose to grow a family is crucial for all employees to feel valued,” says Kolbe.
For example, you may realize many employees may be in the beginning stages of starting a family, so you may make some changes to caregiver benefits to adding in fertility or family planning benefits.
Benefits that make a difference
Need more ideas? Here are some of the other caregiver benefits that Zillow offers.
Ramp-back program. It’s important to help ease employees’ transition back to work after their leave. “Many caregivers will tell you that parental leave is far from a vacation, so offering benefits that make them feel supported when returning to work is crucial,” says Kolbe. To help, Zillow offers a “ramp-back program” that lets employees come back at 60% or 80% capacity for the first two weeks of their return.
Flexible scheduling. Flexible working hours can be especially life-saving for parents. Over half (51%) of Zillow employees have used flexible hours, and childcare was a top reason cited for its use. “Caregiving is a job that doesn’t fit in the traditional box of working 9-to-5, especially when there’s a sick kiddo at home, and offering flexibility empowers employees to work when and where is best for them,” says Kolbe.
Fertility and infertility care. “Navigating infertility can be overwhelming emotionally, physically and financially, and family planning is important for so many professionals,” says Kolbe. The company’s benefits focus on access to the most effective treatments and provide a comprehensive network of professionals and were recently expanded to include the purchase of donor tissue and fertility preservation, according to Kolbe.