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Deloitte’s Paid Family Leave Benefit is a Sign of the Times

Patrick Ball on September 09, 2016 12:28 PM

There’s this thing our CEO will often weave into presentations and speaking engagements.

“Raise your hand if you have kids,” she’ll say. And maybe half the audience will raise their hands.  “Now raise your hand if you think you will have kids,” she says, as another group of hands go up. 

“OK,” she’ll say, taking stock of the room. “Now raise your hand if you have been a kid.” And there it is – a simple yet surprisingly powerful reminder that care touches all of our lives.

That’s the kind of recognition we see in Deloitte’s new paid family leave policy. The professional services firm is introducing a policy providing up to 16 weeks of fully paid leave covering all manners of caregiving – from new moms and dads to employees caring for parents, partners, siblings or children.

More than another example of another company looking for the edge in the war on talent, we could view this move by Deloitte – and a similar one by Nike earlier this year – as a sign of the times.  Here are a few reasons why.

  1. Demographics Shifts Demand It
    America’s care needs are increasing, and it’s having a bigger impact on the workforce than most realize. Driven by a couple of key demographic trends – Boomers aging and Millennials becoming parents – massive segments of today’s multi-generational workforce provide unpaid care for someone else.

    In conversations about working caregivers, much of the focus is on working moms and dads – and it’s easy to see why. Today, 70 percent of moms and more than 90 percent of dads work outside the home, and 60 percent of families don’t have a stay-at-home parent. But 40 million Americans also provide care for adults age 50 or older, according to AARP estimates. And, like moms and dads, most of these senior caregivers are also working full-time.

    HR Professionals Also Read: 5 Things You Need to Know About Aging in America

  2. Yes, the War on Talent Too
    The list of companies who have announced upgraded paid leave policies over the past two years is long. As the movement toward longer maternity leave has expanded, paternity leave and, later, gender-neutral parental leave policies have been trending upward. Now, as we’ve seen with Nike and Deloitte, the expansion to even more inclusive family leave policies has been the latest positive development. In most cases, these moves have been driven by talent acquisition and management efforts.

    In a FORTUNE exclusive covering the announcement, Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert said the new policy is about being inclusive and innovating for talent. “As we think about innovation in talent—well-being being the big focus of ours—it goes way beyond things you traditionally think,” she told FORTUNE. “We really want to be known as an innovative talent organization.” At a time when competition for top talent is fierce, leading companies are leveraging family-care benefits and work-life supports to give them an edge over the competition.

  3. Benefits Equality is Important
    The innovation Englebert is talking about – going beyond the norm and acknowledging the dynamic needs of today’s multi-generational workforce – is critically important and can be a huge differentiator. Coverage of Deloitte’s family leave policy has all pointed to an employee survey that found 88 percent of respondents would value a paid leave program that encompasses family care beyond parental leave. Getting that level of employee input is key to designing a work-life program that meets the needs of all your employees and makes good business sense.

    The sentiment that, “Yes we want to support working moms, but we really need a benefits program that has something everyone could use” is one we hear often from Care@Work clients. When you’re able to successfully design a program to support all employees, you’re better able to reduce work-life conflict across the board. An added bonus to this type of comprehensive program is that you’re able to eliminate any sense of inequality that could crop up among segments of your workforce who might feel as though maternity or paternity leave don’t apply to them.

    READ MORE ABOUT How Employers of Choice Use Family-Care Benefits to Win the War on Talent

  4. The Impact on a Business Is Real
    Care needs can arise at any time – and to any employee. Although they’re not as obvious as, say, a new baby, adult and senior care can be enormously disruptive for employees as responsibilities and needs arise suddenly, forcing families to scramble to find information about how to meet an urgent need. Oftentimes, an employee’s care needs can have a real impact on your business. According to AARP’s Caregiving in the U.S research report, 60 percent of caregivers say their family care responsibilities have had an impact on their career.  Care-related impacts, like absenteeism, presenteeism and churn, cost American businesses tens of billions annually in lost productivity costs.

Given the demographic shifts, and the way employee needs and expectations have evolved, to be an employer of choice you need a value proposition that appeals to the whole employee -- including their work-life needs.

To win the war on talent and to thrive in today's economy, it's becoming increasingly clear that modern companies must address the needs of our multi-generational workforce with inclusive family-care benefits as basic table stakes. In Deloitte, we're seeing the latest example of this trend.