Lessons Learned: How Family Friendly Benefits are Reducing Burnout in Education

Over the last few years, the workforce has changed in profound ways. Remote work and increased flexibility have become commonplace in many industries. But for some industries, the type of remote work many people ask for is just impossible. Universities and schools are among these. 

The education industry, from a human resources perspective, has also been in turmoil over the past few years. Teachers and professors are increasingly burned out. Lack of pay and resources are leaving many school districts with a serious teaching shortage. HR leaders are left scrambling to find ways to retain staff, with the same or less resources. 

There’s no silver bullet to retention, or the teaching shortage. But, some are turning to benefits as a creative way to improve retention packages for their staff. But what benefits can entice staff to stay? Let’s consider who your staff is and look at successful benefits packages from other schools. 

Customizing benefits to meet the needs of staff

A review of today’s education industry reveals a clear picture of staff. In the US, women make up 76% of K-12 teachers and 54% of principals. In higher education 49.8% of all college professors are women

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average age for a teacher spans between 30 and 49 years of age. 

  • Under 30 years: 15%
  • 30 – 49: 56.9%
  • 50 – 54: 11.6%
  • 55+: 16.5%

This full breakdown shows some interesting trends. Ages suggest they’re in key childbearing years or approaching perimenopause and menopause. Given these demographics, investing in a women’s health benefit solution is only rational.

The sentiment was echoed in a recent survey of Ovia members, where 96% of women of this age considered family friendly benefits to be important. Many were asking for things like extended maternity leave, digital health tools to help them track and manage their health during pregnancy, fertility and family-building benefits, access to specialists who can help them manage postpartum health, mental health and baby care such as sleep or lactation coaching. 

Maternity care isn’t the only area where members called for more help. Twenty-six percent of respondents told us that their current benefits don’t do enough to support women’s health overall. 

For example, nearly 70% told us that they don’t know enough about menopause, and nearly half were eager to learn more about it. For many respondents, menopause support would be a timely intervention — more than 10% were already experiencing perimenopause symptoms.

While women’s health isn’t the only benefit that helps build a strong and attractive retention package for those in education, it is clearly extremely important to women in the workforce today. 

Lessons learned from one university

That was the lesson that one university learned recently. In a post-Covid world, employee retention is all about understanding what employees value most and creating a culture that supports work-life balance. Where you may not be able to offer flex scheduling or remote options in education, there are things you can do. 

In a recent panel discussion, Yale University’s Raina Sorgenti, was joined by Ovia Health’s Shauna Murphy Cour and multi-generational workforce expert, Lindsey Pollack to discuss what has worked for Yale thus far. 

One of the top pro tips they learned was to embrace the entry (or stay) interview. Speak with employees early to find out what they value outside of work and ensure their role fits their priorities. For example, an employee whose priorities revolve around their role as a parent may say that being able to pick the kids up and be home for dinner is everything to them. For this person, flexibility is key and should be built into their role. Knowing and protecting employees’ priorities helps to ensure their long-term happiness at work. 

The experts also stressed investing in a culture and policies that truly match the values of your workforce. For example, if you’re spending money on free dinner at 6:30 each night, but your employees are family-focused — or just need time to rejuvenate away from the office in the evening — you might be doing more harm than good. Most employees, especially your high achievers, are likely to feel guilty or anxious when they can’t stay for dinner. That perk quickly becomes a stressor that drives people away.

And employees want you to value what they value. That same Future of Family Friendly study quoted earlier found that 80% of members would consider moving to a new company (in the same role) if it had better family benefits. It’s clear that family-friendly policies are a key to retention. 

These leaders explained how family-friendly policies that give employees more flexibility don’t always mean WFH. For example, Sorgenti described their generous leave policy that covers up to 18 weeks of paid leave and 36 position-protected weeks total. She also noted updated LOA policies that allow employees to take family leave without using up their sick leave first. This small change is a huge benefit for new parents who often need sick days to care for themselves or their children after their parental leave is over. It’s tweaks like these that give employees the flexibility they need to thrive. 

What education leaders can do today

Together, these takeaways can be boiled down to one big idea: We’re all human, and we have the opportunity to care for our employees accordingly. And when your employees are mostly women, investing in an end-to-end women’s health benefit may be in your best interest. Putting humans at the center of our HR strategies — through careful listening, wellness programs, DEI&B, and benefits based on our employees’ values — takes us a long way toward solving the biggest HR challenges, from attrition, to engagement and productivity. 


Want to learn how you can invest in similar women’s health benefits? Let’s chat. 

Ovia Health, a Labcorp subsidiary, has served more than 18 million family and parenthood journeys since 2012. Ovia’s dedication to women’s and family health is founded in evidence-based data. As a result, Ovia is the only digital health solution clinically proven to effectively identify and intervene with high-risk conditions. The company’s 50+ clinical programs, including predictive coaching and personalized care plans, help prevent unnecessary healthcare costs, improve health outcomes, and foster a family-friendly workplace that increases retention and return to work. For more information, visit www.oviahealth.com.