Fulfilling one’s work responsibilities, while raising a family is a challenge particularly for single parents. Most working people make private provisions to take care of their children. For example, relatives accounted for 48% of all child care providers in one study. Organized day care centers accounted for another 30% of child care arrangements and non relatives accounted for most of the remaining arrangements.
Employers who want to reduce the distractions associated with finding reliable child care can help in various ways. Some employers (about 18% recently) simply investigate the day care facilities in their communities and recommend certain ones to interested employees. But more employers are setting up company sponsored and subsidized day care facilities, both to attract employees and to reduce absenteeism For example, Abbott Laboratories built a $10 million childcare center at its headquarters north of Chicago, day time home to about 400 children of Abbott employee.
By establishing subsidized day care centers, employers can benefit via improved recruiting results, lower absenteeism improved morale favorable publicity and lower turnover. But good planning is required. This often starts with questionnaire to employees to answer questions like what would you be willing to pay for care for one child in a child care center near work? And have you missed work during the past six months because you needed to find care arrangements?
Sick Child benefits
What do you do when your child is sick and you need to get to work? One study found that unexpected absences climbed to about 2.4% of payroll hours recently, with a cost per absence to employers of about $600 per episode (for temp employees and reduced productivity for instance). More employers are thus offering emergency child care benefits for instance for when a young child’s regular baby sitter is a no show. Texas Instruments built a Web database its employees use to find last minute child care providers. Others, like Canadian financial services company CIBC are expanding their on site child care centers to handle last minute emergencies.
Elder care benefits are important for much the same reasons as are child care benefits. The responsibility for caring for an aging relative can affect the employee’s performance at work. One study found that, to care for an older relative 64% of employees took sick days or vacation time, 35% decreased work hours, 22% took leaves of absence, 20% changed their job status from full to part time, 16% quit the jobs, and 13% retired early. The problem will grow more acute as the segment of the population over age 65 rises. One survey found that about 120 million Americans are now or have in the past cared for an adult relative or friend.
So often citing human toll on caregivers more employers are providing elder care. For example, the United Auto Workers and Ford Motors Company provide elder care referral service for Ford’s salaried employees. They provide detailed assessment of the elderly relative’s needs, and recommendations on the care that would be best. The National Council on Aging has a useful Web site to help elders and categories find benefit programs www.benefitcheckup.org
One survey found that about half the 2,586 workers surveyed felt they were working too much, and putting too little time into other things in life that really matter. In response, employers such as Hartford Financial Services Group, and Nationwide Mutual Insurance are changing their time off policies. For example, they are handling out time off as performance reward; tracking employee’s time off to avert burnout; giving new hires more vacation, and offering employees more long weekends on holidays.