Nearly half of today’s workforce is female, which means it’s imperative for employers to start building a culture and infrastructure of benefits that facilitate a smooth transition into parenthood while allowing for continued growth in the workplace. However, our 2017 Motherhood in America survey found that there’s a gap between the benefits and support women need and what is currently being offered by employers. The report uncovered that 34% of women decide to leave their job after they have a baby, with a majority making that decision before their baby is born. And perhaps most shocking, 67% of women believe their workplace was not a good place for new mothers.
To figure out why this is and determine how employers can better support women and families, we partnered with the National Business Group on Health’s (NBGH) to conduct further research diving into the modern experience of women in the workplace -- from both the woman’s and the employer’s perspective.
Here’s what we learned women want:
- Paid leave — personal and parental — was the most highly desired benefit with 84% of respondents identifying this as a crucially important.
- Flexibility including telework or work-from-home capabilities, flexible scheduling, and part time work was the next most sought-after type of benefit, 61% of respondents agreed.
- Parenting benefits including childcare discounts and subsidies, onsite childcare, emergency backup care, breastfeeding support, new parent support groups, and educational resources were the next most desired benefits according to 53% of respondents.
- Health related benefits such as maternity benefits, infertility benefits, and mental health resources were of interest to 46% of respondents.
- Financial benefits including dependent care flexible spending accounts and financial counseling services were least desired with only 35% identifying these as benefits they would appreciate from their employer.
Now that we know what employees want, we needed to learn what they’re currently being offered in order to determine the areas where employers could better support women and families. We found that one of the benefits with the largest discrepancy between what employees want and what they’re being offered are onsite childcare and childcare center discounts. There was a 63 percentage point difference in how many employees desire onsite childcare (69%) and how many report being offered it (6%), and a 60 percentage point difference between how many people desire childcare center discounts (70%) and how many report being offered it (10%).
We also learned that the way benefits are communicated influences utilization and awareness. Of those who learned about their benefits through their employer’s benefits website, 21% found it difficult to access their benefits. Of those who learned of their benefits through word-of-mouth, 53% found it difficult to access their benefits.
The stage of parenthood matters too. The percentage of women reporting that they are offered the benefits they desire increases from just 15-17% throughout the three trimesters, up to 35% after delivery. The availability of benefits likely didn’t differ throughout the course of pregnancy and postpartum, what differed was women’s knowledge of these benefits. Benefits should be communicated earlier in order to prepare women for the postpartum period and display support to employees.
Great employers listen to and evolve with their employees. With an increasing number of millennials in the workforce, employers need to focus on providing comprehensive maternity and family benefits that meet their employees where they are, and make it easy for them to access, understand, and use their benefits. Employers can benefit from partnering with organizations that can help them better understand what it is that their employees want, helping to minimize talent churn, boost recruitment efforts with millennials, and reduce healthcare spend.
Ovia Health's benefits help women and parents grow their families and their careers, while reducing healthcare costs, improving clinical outcomes, and helping employers retain and attract talent. Since launching in 2012, Ovia Health has supported over 10 million people and is the #1 health app for women and families.
For more information about Ovia Health or our research collaboration with the National Business Group on Health, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more about these survey results, become an NBGH member and download our whitepaper, The Parent Package or watch our joint webinar.