- Large employers are expanding paid leave benefits, according to the 2020 Large Employers' Leave Strategy and Transformation Survey from the National Business Group on Health.
- In 2019, 30% of the 113 employers surveyed added new leave programs, 24% increased the length of leave available and 12% expanded eligibility for leave benefits. Respondents also said they are expanding the reasons paid leave can be taken, including for parenting and caregiving obligations, as well as bereavement.
- Paid leave for caregiving was a particular area of focus for respondents, and many said they offer paid leave to care for loved ones beyond spouses and children: 46% of the respondents' caregiving benefits cover siblings, 46% cover parents of the employee's spouse or partner and 38% cover grandparents.
It appears employers are realizing the benefits of caregiving perks. After all, stressed employees tend to be less productive, research shows, which has serious implications for the bottom line.
While many employers are offering and expanding caregiving benefits, many employees still say they are afraid to even talk about caregiving responsibilities for fear it will negatively impact them professionally. Research shows many employees have quit a job to meet caregiving demands.
But employers may see benefits when they normalize such needs. Joseph B. Fuller, professor of management practice at the Harvard Business School, previously told HR Dive that employers create an artificial talent shortage, to some extent, when they fail to recognize caretaking duties as a key reason employees leave the workforce. "The costs associated with voluntary turnover and lost productivity — through presenteeism, through distraction — driven by caretaking duties are much more substantial than employers take into account," he said.
The Gates Foundation is looking to help: It recently awarded a $1.1 million grant to a nonprofit that connects front-line workers with resources and education to address challenges such as housing, finances, healthcare, childcare and transportation.
Some employers are tackling the problem head-on, too. Goldman Sachs, for example, is now offering 20 weeks of parental leave, and Utah-based Qualtrics plans to offer on-site child care in its new headquarters. Additionally, Starbucks has partnered with Care.com offer workers 10 subsidized emergency backup days each year to assist with caring for children, adults or seniors.