As the countrys demographics continue to shift, employers are facing changes in the makeup of their workforce, according to a report from the Council of Economic Advisers. With those changes come new benefits needs for working families. Brokers can help their clients keep up with these evolving requirements and expectations.
Shifts in the U.S. workforce noted in the report include:
- Mothers are increasingly the household breadwinners.
- Women make up almost half of the workforce.
- Fathers are increasingly family caregivers.
- Men and women face similar struggles in balancing work and family.
As a result, employers may need to adjust benefits and policies, as many workers seek more flexibility and better work-life balance. Most workers have caregiving responsibilities for others, the report states. Trying to balance bread-winning and caregiving responsibilities without the support of work-family policies designed to help families navigate these complexities is leaving too many families stressed, exhausted and burdened by work-family conflict.
Workplace flexibility benefits such as flextime, teleworking, job-sharing, paid and unpaid time off, maternity leave and paternity leave has a direct impact on a companys competitiveness in the labor market, too. When workers are choosing companies based on their family-friendly policies, the companies that adopt such policies are better able to attract and retain talent, the report notes.
Brokers can use benchmarking to show where their clients stand in relation to competitors when it comes to workplace flexibility and how it integrates with other benefits and workplace policies. For example, a companys strong workplace flexibility could make up for the fact that its 401(k) match is slightly below average in the industry. Or an employer could add a new family-friendly benefit to soften the blow of raising employees contributions toward health insurance premiums.
"Workplace flexibility has moved from a niche concern to a mainstream reality," says Karen Kornbluh, executive vice president of external affairs at Nielsen, which owns The Harris Poll. "Men, women, parents, Millennials are all interested, if it makes business sense, and employers seem to be responding."
More than half (52%) of U.S. workers (not including self-employed Americans) and 58% of working parents said they could do their job better if they had a more flexible work schedule, according to a recent Harris poll.
Likewise, 43% of workers and 46% of working parents said they could do their job better if they had a more consistent and/or predictable schedule, the poll found.
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