Parenting-related perks are – increasingly – what top employees really want.
What do you value in your job? For some, it’s interesting, fulfilling work. For others, decent holidays and a competitive salary. Ideally, of course, we want it all.
It’s certainly true that we’re all looking for more from our working lives than money. According to research from employee benefit company Sodexo Engage, nearly 60% of employees would stay at a company longer if it offered better perks.
That’s an important finding because, by one calculation, hiring a new member of staff can cost double their annual salary in recruitment fees, lost productivity and onboarding costs. Businesses that hang on to their best talent tend to do better than those with a high turnover of staff.
So what are ‘better perks’? Traditional workplace benefits include health plans, high street discounts, free breakfast foods and discounted gym memberships. But more and more, employees are looking for perks that help them in their role as parents, as we first reported in the Millennial Dad at Work too.
Businesses that hang on to their best talent tend to do better than those with a high turnover of staff
Free fertility treatment anyone?
Parent-friendly perks are, apparently, all the rage. In a study carried out before the pandemic, most workers chose flexible working hours as their number one work perk, something that would clearly appeal to employees who have to fit work around school runs and childcare.
Other popular work perks for parents include childcare vouchers, extra parental leave and on-site nurseries. Paid family time off is an increasingly popular employee benefit because it allows parents to care for sick children, spend some of the long summer vacation at home or attend school sports days without having to eat into precious holiday time. Summer hours (reduced hours in summer) and term time-only working perform a similar role.
And the Sodexo study highlighted one novel perk that may be gaining in popularity as more employees delay parenthood to focus on careers. Help with fertility treatments was one of the top 10 most desired work perks revealed by the research.
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Parenting work perks benefit the bottom line
Why is any of this important? For working parents, the answer is obvious. The right employee benefits can make juggling work and family life easier.
For employers, the message is that parenting perks benefit the bottom line. If work perks make life easier for the parents in your workforce, they’re more likely to stay (and they might even tell talented parent friends to come and work for you too). They’re also more likely to be effective, productive workers. Parents of young children are often in their 30s and 40s, which is also the age at which the magic combination of talent, experience and ambition can peak. Why risk losing your most valuable people?
Because that’s exactly what organisations that don’t make allowances for working parents do. According to the Sodexo research, over 31% of high earners admitted that, due to a lack of flexibility at work, they had actually delayed having children.
You can ascribe that to an admirable commitment to career-over-family if you want, but you can also bet your bottom dollar that many of those employees had half an eye on the recruitment boards, looking for roles that did offer the family-friendly flexibility they craved.
you can also bet your bottom dollar that many of those employees had half an eye on the recruitment boards, looking for roles that did offer the family-friendly flexibility they craved.
Work perks are important
Clearly, employees value work perks, and working parents value them more than most. In fact, Sodexo found that, in some UK cities, over 40% of employees would consider taking a pay cut in exchange for better work perks.
For parents, the situation has only been clarified by the Covid pandemic, which has forced many of us to work almost exclusively from home for the past year. For all its downsides, working from home has shown parents what a better work/life balance, and an easier-to-manage childcare schedule, might look like. In the aftermath of Covid, few will appreciate a return to long hours, endless commutes, and family time that has to be squeezed into the peripheries of the week.
On the other hand, organisations that take parental pressures into account when lockdown ends will give themselves a recruitment and retention advantage. Work perks are good for all employees. For parents, they can mean the difference between forging a long career with a company and continually being ready to jump ship.
Sodexo’s top ten alternative work perks
Here are the top ten alternative work perks, as revealed by the Sodexo study:
- Finishing early on Friday
- Paid holiday travel/accommodation
- Summer hours
- Student loan contribution
- Beer o’ clock
- Nap rooms
- Beauty budgets
- Pawternity (time off for a new pet)
- Fertility treatments