Published on February 8, 2022 on LinkedIn
There is little doubt that the global pandemic has altered what many people consider to be important in life. Here in the UK, property prices in rural areas have soared, as those who no longer need to be in the office five days a week have sought more space than city suburbs can provide. Parents who previously left for work early in the morning and returned once their children were fed, bathed, and tucked up in bed, are now routinely seen at the school gates dropping off and collecting their children. For those who previously commuted to work each day, the savings in time and money that working from home creates, mean they also have more of both to spend doing things they enjoy with their families.
Of course, a lack of social interaction with colleagues, the need to consciously compartmentalise “work” and “home” life, and occasionally having to balance home schooling with work commitments, means it has not all been plain sailing. Nonetheless, the changes that were foisted on many of us in early 2020, have frequently been adopted with ease. The opportunity to spend more time with family, be more involved in our children’s care and education, and being around to see our children grow and develop, has been for many, a huge positive during a time where there has often been little to celebrate.
Business’ willingness and ability to accept this change should not come as a surprise though. Even before the world was thrown into turmoil by Covid-19, there was a growing global trend amongst employers to recognise the importance that employees put on parenthood and family life.
With statutory parental benefits varying dramatically throughout the world, and severely lacking in some countries, many employers have taken the initiative by putting greater emphasis on enhanced parental benefits.
In a recent research project by Chime Global Benefits, we found several consistent themes on the subject, with the trends emanating from northern Europe, North America, southeast Asia and Pacific regions. Below are some trends we observed:
Many firms are removing gender differences to allow new fathers to access company funding at the same level as new mothers
Employers are continuing salary-linked benefits (e.g. pension contributions) for the duration of parental leave to support the long-term financial wellbeing of new parents (in particular new mothers)
There is an increased tendency to provide more flexibility over how parental leave is taken (e.g. in multiple blocks of time, rather than in one continuous period of leave)
Firms are increasingly giving primary carers the opportunity for to phase their return to work
We are observing enhanced pay for those returning on a part-time basis (e.g. 90% pay for an 80% return)
Firms that rely on their employees being present with clients (e.g. management consultancies) are observed to be adopting “work local” policies so that new parents can spend more time with their families, and less time travelling and staying in hotels.
It seems that the pandemic is likely to have created a newfound appreciation amongst many people of what it means to be ‘present’, which will further increase the demand for better parental benefits which are tailored to the needs of individuals. With the last 24 months being a time where businesses have often survived by relying heavily on staff making sacrifices and adjustments, these trends form part of a huge up-swell in employers reacting to these human challenges and focussing on benefits which enhance their employees’ lives.
Whether by cruel accident, or by design, businesses and employees have become increasingly aware of how important family life and parenthood is. There is an old Polish proverb: “you have a lifetime to work, but your children are only young once.” We suspect that we are approaching a point where benefits that enable employees to fully enjoy family life and see their children grow up, whilst continuing to succeed in their career, will not just be for wealthy businesses to attract and retain staff, but instead will become part of our collective normal, and simply “the way it is”.
About Chime Global Benefits
Chime Global Benefits exist to help organisations be great places to work. Our clients are multinational organisations who require specialist help to optimise and manage their employee benefits and wellbeing arrangements around the world. If you would like to find out more about how Chime Global Benefits can support organisations like yours, please contact us at https://chimeglobalbenefits.com/contact