Boosting Work Life Balance Through Back-Up Care

Boosting Work-Life Balance Through Back-Up Child Care

A recent survey of Fortune 500 companies in the US found 90 per cent of employees have left work early, and 30 per cent have cut back by more than six hours per week due to family responsibilities. The survey also found that 41 per cent of working parents admit the lack of work-family benefits and support has hurt their job performance, and 62 per cent of all employees would leave their job for a comparable one with better work-life benefits.

Given the above, any workplace measure which helps parents and carers better manage their work life balance is worthwhile and proactive organisations are increasingly developing and introducing initiatives which improve the overall well being of employees by helping them manage their family responsibilities.

Emergency and back up care initiatives, which support parents and carers when their usual arrangements fall through are increasingly being included in these employee assistance programs and offer a valuable safety net to employees in times of need.

The advantages of offering a back up care program are obvious for employees; peace of mind, reduced stress, reduced absenteeism and improved ability to focus on the job at hand, but they can also help an employer meet its business goals by limiting losses in productivity as a result of absenteeism, reducing staff turnover and driving greater engagement and productivity.

Back-up care can be provided for healthy or slightly ill kids from infant through to school age as well as adults and elder relatives in need. Care may be provided in a centre or at home.

A recent survey conducted by the consulting division of Bright Horizons, an American employer sponsored child care provider, surveyed more than 5800 employees at more than 400 organisations which offer back-up care to their employees.

The findings make a compelling case for offering support with finding care to employees in times of an emergency:

  • 92 percent of respondents say that back-up care positively affects their productivity
  • 86 percent of respondents reported that in the last six months, back-up care enabled them to work on a day they otherwise would not have been able to; on average, back-up care enabled them to work six days during that time
  • 87 percent of survey respondents said that back-up care reflects favorably on the company’s image
  • 67 percent are more likely to stay with their employer because of access to back-up care
  • Respondents who have used adult/elder back-up care within the past six months saved an average of 10 work days

Respondents to the Bright Horizons survey reported that having access to back-up care also helps them complete their regular work responsibilities more easily, start work on time, attend meetings, conferences and training, meet unexpected work demands, travel for work, provide good customer service, work overtime and meet performance expectations.

Improved wellbeing

The survey also revealed that offering back up care reduces stress levels and improves the wellbeing of the employees who responded. Some 92 per cent of respondents said access to the back up care program helped them manage their stress levels, 91 per cent said it helped them achieve a good work life balance and 82 per cent said access to the initiative had a positive impact on their well being.

Improved retention rates

The Bright Horizons research also showed that 67 per cent of respondents would be more likely to stay with their employer as a direct result of having access to back-up care. In contrast, the survey showed that one in four employees without access to back-up care had seriously considered leaving their employer due to complications with child care arrangements compared with only one in 11 employees with access to back-up care services.

Back-up care arrangements can also positively affect return to work rates after parental leave. In the Bright Horizons study 78 per cent of respondents said access to back-up care was an important factor in their decision to return to work after the birth or adoption of a child.

Return on investment

In HR it’s hard to push any new ideas across the line without a clear illustration of a return on investment. Thankfully back-up care services do not have to be expensive and the return on investment can easily be measured in terms of decreased rates of absenteeism.

American law firm Alston & Bird claims that the introduction of a back-up care program helped it achieve savings of US$250,458 and reduced employee absence days by 676 in one year. Offering back-up care also improved the company’s reputation as an employer and improved recruitment, retention and progression rates of working parents.

The business case is also demonstrated by US bank JP Morgan Chase, which has a global back-up care program, used by more than 13,000 employees who used using 105,000 child days/visits in 2015. When asked what they would have done without access to the program 80 per cent of parents responded that they would have taken unscheduled time off from work. In addition, 77 per cent of parents who used the program said it made it easier for them to focus at work.

Helping employees find back-up care for their kids does not have to be complicated or costly. It could be as straightforward as referring them to an emergency care service such as that provided by Care Corporate or as simple as offering employees a range of resources on planning for sick days and options to consider when care arrangements fall through.

For more information on how Care Corporate can help you help your employees plan for the inevitable contact us today.

Bright Horizons

  1. The Lasting Impact of Employer-Sponsored Back-Up Care– Bright Horizons