Top tips for being a trailblazer of family-friendly benefits

Need To Know

  • Flexibility around where and when employees can work is one of the most highly-valued family-friendly benefits.
  • Supporting employees who are also carers should include access to support programmes that help them find and fund the most suitable family-based care services.
  • Group life and income protection benefits provide more than financial peace of mind for employees and their families. Many of these products include access to health and wellbeing services that can be used every day.

Juggling home and family life, care responsibilities and work commitments has pushed many employees to the limits, and organisations are responding by offering a range of benefits and initiatives to alleviate some of these pressures that impact on family life, while helping them to attract and retain talent. Here are some of our top tips for employers wanting to stand out from the crowd.

Offer increased flexibility

Flexible working options, where staff can split their working week between home and the office, or work flexible hours, are a lifeline for those with young families or other care commitments. Initiated by the constraints of lockdown, the model looks as though it is here to stay. But some employers are going further to improve work-life balance for families. Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health and Protection, says: “Many organisations are implementing family-friendly working practices, such as restricting out of hours emails or stopping employees from taking work devices such as laptops or phones with them on holiday.”

Provide help for new parents

Shared parental leave is a welcome benefit for new parents, and employers are enhancing its value by offering a competitive period of time on full pay, followed by an extended period on half pay. Other family-friendly initiatives include the introduction of breastfeeding policies to ensure safe conditions for mothers to breastfeed from the office, while law firms Cooley and Clifford Chance are now including fertility benefits, including egg freezing and in vitro fertilisation (IVF), within their UK employee benefits packages.

Create support for carers

Around five million people in the UK are juggling caring responsibilities with work, according to Carers UK, with the added pressure this brings forcing many to give up their jobs. Employers can help by offering caregiver support programmes that help those with care responsibilities find, contract and fund family-based care services.

Jacqueline Berry, founding director of My Care Consultant, says: “Empathy and a flexible leave policy are a good start, but a support package that helps people identify and access the right support, not only aids their wellbeing, but also allows them to focus on work, avoiding the cumulative effects that distraction, absence or even resignation can have on a business.”

Help with the family finances

With one in four adults in the UK left financially vulnerable as a result of the pandemic, according to the Financial lives survey (FLS) published by the Financial Conduct Authority in February, more organisations are providing employees with workplace savings and financial wellbeing programmes, as well as voluntary benefits that put money back into employees’ pockets.

“Adding ‘perks’ to the benefits package that include discounts on days out, meals out, or shopping, can make family treats more affordable. The cost to employers is low, but the perceived value to employees is high,” says Clark.

Extend benefits to the whole family

Benefits such as group life, critical illness and income protection give employees vital financial security if they’re too ill to work, have a serious illness or worse, die. “These benefits are about more than helping the family one day,” says Sue Helmont, marketing director at AIG Life. “They come with access to health and wellbeing experts that the family can use now, and evidence suggests they are becoming increasingly useful to members of group risk schemes and their families to help manage their day-to-day health.”