The pandemic has changed everyone’s lives in so many ways. We likely will not realize all of those changes for a long time. Work life has changed for nearly everyone during this time, and our relationships to work, and how they relate to our personal lives, have been put under the microscope.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Tim Allen, CEO of Care.com, addresses the impact of the pandemic, particularly on working mothers. In his article, Allen reports that almost 3 million women, particularly Black and Latina women, have been forced to make a choice between their children and their jobs. He posits that the health of our economy post-pandemic is contingent upon the caregiving support working mothers receive.
Allen spoke with many business leaders who reported that they are revising their benefit strategies in order to be more supportive of their employees. In addition, Care.com developed a report, “The Future of Benefits.” In this report, Care.com asked 500 business leaders in the U.S. about retention, termination, addition, and expansion of their current benefits. Here are a few of the key takeaways from this report:
“Without Care, People Can’t Work”
The work-life balance has become front and center during the pandemic. 1.2 million parents of children ages 5-17, mostly women, left the workforce between February and September 2020. Employers have realized that, in order for employees to be productive, successful, and remain in the workforce, they must be supported with care benefits.
The report also shows that employers are recognizing that many employees care for elderly relatives. Allen reports that “about 17% of the U.S. workforce care for a senior relative or loved one, and nearly half of them are sandwiched, also caring for children under the age of 18.”
These realizations by employers have led them to expand or add benefits relating to child care and senior care.
“The Future of Work (and Care) is Flexible”
Undoubtedly, the pandemic forced many employees to experience working remotely. This was a huge adjustment for many employers and employees. The Care.com report shows that many employers are embracing a “hybrid” work model going forward. They recognize the benefit to some employees to continue to have the option to work from home. Keeping in line with the acknowledgement of the challenges working parents face, many employers are also adding childcare benefits that will help remote workers, such as online platforms for finding in-home childcare.
“The Mental Health of Employees and Their Families Is Essential”
One of the most significant health impacts of the pandemic has been its effect on people’s mental health. Allen states that burnout was a global crisis prior to the pandemic, and it has only gotten worse since then. Employers are recognizing this, and many of them plan on expanding their mental health benefits in order to ease the transition for their employees.
In his article, Allen emphasizes that employers cannot be the only agents of change regarding the future of benefits. He adds that state and federal policies, such as the American Rescue Plan, should also be supported by CEOs and HR leaders in a combined effort to address the current crises in the workplace. You can read the entire article here.