How to Bridge the Benefits Gap in Your Agency

July 14, 2020

The desire to achieve a balance between projects at work and obligations at home has been a relevant topic of conversation for a long time. When employees can achieve this, they are less stressed and happier with their employer, which usually means they are more productive and more likely to stick with their job. Many benefits offered have primarily focused on employees with a family leaving employees with different personal circumstances feeling cheated.  

Statistics show that people are getting married later or choosing other lifestyles, but benefits offered by employers are failing to catch up to more modern lifestyles.  Here are a few modifications agencies can make to their benefits offerings to help all employees feel supported.

Flexible Scheduling – 

Allowing employees to create a schedule outside of the traditional workweek continues to grow in popularity in agencies of all sizes. A recent survey shows that many companies still only offer this benefit to employees with children. It is essential to consider that even though an employee does not have children, it does not mean they do not desire flexibility. Most employees have interests and responsibilities outside of work, and some of those may occasionally interfere with regular working hours. Limiting this benefit only to employees with children can be frustrating to those that do not.

To make this option fair to staff, regardless of their family situation, consider broadening the guidelines to be more inclusive of all employees. Such things as a flat number of hours per week or per month with set expectations as far as work completion and a plan to cover client needs during those hours will allow more employees to utilize this benefit.  

Family Leave – 

Employer-paid family leave is a voluntary benefit which many companies continue to offer only to families for life events like the birth or adoption of a new child or care for a sick child. However, as of the end of 2019, the Family Caregiver Alliance reports that 39.8 million people in the US are caregivers for adults with a disability or illness.  

If the family leave policy at your agency is defined by the traditional guidelines of parent-child relationships, it’s essential to expand this. Whether it is an adult child or an aging parent who cannot take care of themselves independently, there is a good chance that employees within your agency are designated caregivers to an adult in their lives.

Bereavement Leave –

Many agency handbooks contain language for bereavement, restricting it to family members only (spouse, parent, child, etc.). Even though many employees may not currently be married or have plans to ever take a walk down the aisle, policies for the benefit remain written to accommodate traditional family setups. The reality is that employees have significant relationships outside of the normal spousal or familial ones. It could be a partner or significant other or even a close friend to whom the employee is not related.   

Reviewing and broadening this to make sure it works for all lifestyles will ensure that employees can focus on what they need when dealing with the death of a loved one instead of forcing them to utilize PTO or request an exception.  

When employees feel like their personal and professional needs are being addressed by their employer, they feel cared for. By making modifications to the benefits offerings to be more conducive to different lifestyles, agencies benefit not only be having more satisfied employees but also position themselves to attract new talent seeking an employer that can meet their needs regardless of their marital or familial status

For more insight on this topic and others, check out the full episode of The Independent Agent below!

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