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Employee Benefits

How Could the New School Year Impact Your Workforce?

Barry Fitzpatrick
Barry Fitzpatrick
Vice President - Client Service, Employee Benefits

It doesn’t seem possible, but the school year is right around the corner! In fact, in some areas, school has already started. While parents are scurrying to make sure their kids have everything they need for the year ahead, employers also have a task ahead of them.

If you’re an employer, I’d urge you to focus more than you ever have on the impact a new school year will have on your workforce.

Here’s why — nearly 80 percent of employees said they’d be more loyal to a flexible employer and 30 percent said they’d left a job due to inflexible work arrangements, according to a FlexJobs survey. Additionally, 45 percent of respondents said they wanted flexibility, specifically due to their family.

And, let’s not forget the new global trend we’re hearing about — The Great Resignation.

Create a Family-Friendly Employee Benefits Strategy

So, you might be asking yourself, “what can I do?”

The answer is to develop and then communicate a family-friendly employees benefit strategy. This is key to reducing turnover.

While you don’t want to target programs to a specific group of individuals (i.e. employees with children), you should frame up family-friendly policies and show how they are beneficial to the workforce and the organization as a whole. And even though it’s almost September, it’s not too late to have a positive impact.

Understanding Your Current Workforce and Benefits Strategy

Start with understanding your current policy environment, the family demographics of your employees, and what your employees are looking for. From there, you have a whole lot of questions to ask yourself and your management team.

Evaluate the Data that You Collect

Do you have information about your employees’ family members? Do you know if your employees’ spouses are also working? Are there data elements in your HRIS system you haven’t populated which would be helpful in understating your population?

Review Your Employee Handbook and Workplace Policies

Has your PTO program been updated recently? Did you document work-from-home (WFH) rules in 2020? Have you trained managers on legal obligations that impact decisions about treatment of workers (ADA, FMLA, FFCRA, and others)?

Prioritize Areas that Are Important to Your Employees

What were the results of your most recent employee engagement survey? If you haven’t done one in while, this is a key step. Surveying your employees just prior to annual enrollment will allow you to show actions based on the survey results.

Update Your Employee Benefits Strategy

Once you understand your current environment, update your employee benefits strategy with specific tactics to attract, recruit, support, and retain employees.

Consider these employee benefit programs and strategies:

  • Create an annual calendar of employee communications that provide a regular inventory of the work/life programs that are available.
  • Implement new work/life balance programs, like Wellthy and Carriloop.
  • Improve resiliency by offering an app-based tool, like Joyages (a user-friendly digital life coach that helps users navigate through life’s toughest moments).
  • Update your WFH policy (or create one if you haven’t already) so that you have clear expectations on how and when employees can work from home, and be prepared to manage the transition to a hybrid workforce.
  • Expand your PTO program, adding additional opportunities for employees take personal leave. This will provide working parents with an opportunity to coordinate their schedules without giving up their Spring Break vacation (again!).
  • When available, create job sharing opportunities for employees, allowing workers to coordinate their schedules.
  • Amend your Cafeteria Plan to take advantage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), which expanded Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) rules.
  • Find childcare centers or after-school programs your employees may be interested in and subsidize their cost, if possible.

Managing the risks associated with employee turnover is just one of many mitigation strategies Holmes Murphy can help you with. If you’re interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or directly to your current Holmes Murphy Employee Benefits representative. We’re prepped to help you make this the best school year yet (at least for your employees!).

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