Millennials Now Driving Companies To Offer More Perks For Parents

Millennials Now Driving Companies to Offer More Perks for Parents

The juggling act of balancing a career and raising a family has never been more prominent. In Australia the number of stay-at-home mums is decreasing and more couples with kids under 18 are both now working fulltime – an increase from 53% in 1996 to 61% in 2016.

For parents – in particular women – trying to “have it all” has come at a hefty cost. Exhaustion, relationship problems, mental health issues, lack of time with family, and expensive childcare are just some of the downfalls experienced by many.

In fact, according to the Judith Lumley Centre at La Trobe University, one in three parents admit to struggling to find balance between their work and family life. It’s a hard slog for many Aussie families, and unfortunately, we don’t have affordable government funded childcare that countries like Sweden have. Nor the significant ‘village’ community system that is so prevalent in places like Greece or Brazil (where extended family members all live together and help look after the children).

Generation X has shown us exactly how difficult it is to be a working parent, but things are about to change because there’s a new pack of parents on the rise – the millennials.

The millennial expectation

In the United States, millennials are the largest group in the workforce representing more than one in three workers – according to a Pew Research Centre study. However, unlike previous generations before them, they place a higher priority on work-life balance and aren’t afraid to ask for what they want.

In order to recruit and retain the best talent, for a while now companies have been luring millennials with perks, flexible and diverse working environments, rich cultures, meaningful policies and more. Yet according to a recent Deloitte survey, millennial workers are not very loyal with 43% envisioning leaving their jobs within two years, and only 28% looking to stay longer than five years.

Adding to the dilemma are that these millennials are starting to have children, which is exactly why employers are now being forced to re-evaluate their parental packages and incentives (as reported by Quartz At Work).

Despite the American parental leave system being even more dismal than here in Australia; American Express now offers 20 weeks of paid parental leave, six to eight weeks of additional paid medical leave (related to childbirth) and up to 20 days a year of childcare (on top of other things). The Gates Foundation goes one better with a whopping 52 weeks of paid parental leave in the first year following a child’s birth or adoption.

Above and beyond for working parents

But it’s not just paid leave and childcare funding that companies in the US are now dishing out. Here are just some of the more unusual parenting perks currently being offered:

Flying nannies – Some employers are allowing, and paying for, new babies plus a nanny or another caregiver to travel with working mothers on business trips.

Smart crib – Several companies are handing out the celebrity pediatrician designed, Snoo Smart Sleeper crib to employees at $1,160 a pop.

Cash gifts – Employee cash bonuses called ‘baby bonding bucks’ are up for grabs in some workplaces, to spend on things like babysitters, groceries and cleaners.

Maternity concierge service – Virtual assistants to help expecting parents plan for their pending arrival and after the birth, assisting with everything from organising a baby shower to locating a suitable childcare centre.

Breast milk transportation – Nursing mums travelling for work have the opportunity with some employers to courier their breastmilk overnight back to their baby free of charge.

Quality breast pumps – Available for take-home use at the employer’s home or on-site in a private office nursing room.

Lactation consultants – For those working mums finding it difficult to navigate the new world of breastfeeding.

Special needs children’s care – The expense of services such as occupational, physical and speech therapy for children with special needs, is covered by some companies.

Fertility treatments – Financial assistance for workers who might be undergoing fertility treatments, as part of some companies’ standard health benefit packages.

Family coaching – Professional sessions to help new parents plan, set goals and manage expectations before and after having children.

Scholarships and camps – Some companies offer financial scholarships for children of employees designed to help pay for high school or college; and others offer free on-site summer camps in the office.

The employer benefits

As more millennials start to have children, it’s inevitable that Australia will too have to start thinking outside the box when it comes to more flexible arrangements and perks for working parents.

Of course, having more job security, flexible hours, financial assistance and other benefits which make juggling a career and raising a family easier is fantastic for those staff who have kids. But what’s in it for the employer? Here are just some of the benefits:

  • More loyal and committed workers – Working parents have been found to be more engaged than other employees and better at multitasking, which leads to overall better business growth. Other studies agree with this notion, revealing them to be no less productive than childless co-workers.
  • Reduction in quality staff loss – Apparently 43% of highly qualified women either leave their jobs permanently or put their careers on hold while having children. Millennials are also more likely to stick with their employers once they become parents if more flexible work arrangements and benefits are offered.
  • Less recruitment required – Fewer new hires means less time and money spent on recruitment and training.
  • Attract the best new talent – Workers who are in high demand are now looking for the best packages on offer, especially when it comes to parent flexibility and benefits, so you’ll be more enticing as an employer.

So, if you don’t already have a great parental scheme in place for your employees, then now’s the time to make it a priority. Perks for working parents are only going to become more expected and could soon be the most important tool you have for business growth and stability.