Is benefits fairness really so important?

Matt Williamson is accelerating family support in the workplace with Bubble, a platform enabling employers to better support working parents with access to amazing childcare, family health and wellbeing support.

When chatting to employers who are thinking about implementing Bubble childcare support for their working parents, I’m often asked about ‘benefit fairness’ – i.e. how can a company justify investment in a benefit that may not be applicable to the entire workforce?

My answer? Well, twofold.

Inclusivity

Offering a benefit that provides specific support for high need groups is not an exclusive policy, quite the opposite. It promotes inclusivity by recognising the needs of a particular demographic and addressing those needs accordingly, retaining them in your workforce. And who’s to say that a given employee that doesn’t need a certain benefit right now won’t need it in the future? 

This is particularly the case for parental support. Providing meaningful support for working parents is a signal to all staff (and potential new hires) that you are a family friendly employer; that you recognise your team have lives outside of work and that you’re willing to invest in targeted support that reduces burnout, supports their wellbeing and improves their productivity.

Business Need

From a business perspective, can you really afford not to act? If companies fail to provide specific support for high need groups, you fail to retain those groups from your workforce. You find it harder and harder to attract those groups when recruiting. You lose diversity. And not only is diversity and inclusivity a human cause, it makes business sense too.

McKinsey have been running a longstanding project on the impact of diversity on profitability, which is well worth a read. And more often than not, those diverse groups bring superpowers from their personal life experience that can help drive your business forward.

I’ll finish by offering a couple of personal perspectives as an employee:

  • I don’t begrudge my company investing in mental health support simply because I don’t feel a need for those services right now.
  • I don’t begrudge my company subsidising childcare support for our working parents just because I’m not a father yet.
  • And do you know what? I didn’t even mind a previous employer investing in yoga/meditation classes even though I wasn’t into it myself (though my partner keeps telling me I should give it a try, these calf muscles are TIGHT).

In fact, all these things tell me I’m lucky enough to have worked for some really empathetic employers, and that makes me feel welcome, committed, and empowered to stay and build my career.  

So, in a nutshell I’ve realised that what I’m advocating is benefit flexibility. This term is relatively new to me but it perfectly sums up how I feel employers can proactively structure a diverse benefit offering to address a diverse workforce, rather than feeling limited by the need for every benefit to be applicable to every employee for fear of fairness.

And in a world of work that is increasingly flexible, isn’t it essential to ensure benefit flexibility to match?