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The modern business landscape is shifting, propelled by fundamental transformations in employee benefits, according to the 2023 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Employee Benefits Survey.

One of the highlights of this transformation is a significant surge in parental leave benefits, indicating that employers recognize the value of supporting their employees’ family lives alongside their professional commitments.

Parental Leave Programs Make Strides

From last year, both paid maternity and paternity leave programs witnessed a 5-percentage-point surge. Now, according to the findings of the expansive survey involving 4,217 HR professionals across various industries and organization sizes, these benefits are offered by 40% and 32% of employers, respectively. Parallel to this, paid parental leave saw a 6-point leap, now being offered by approximately four out of ten employers.

The Role of the Pandemic in Shaping Parental Leave Policies

The COVID-19 pandemic played a dramatic role in reshaping the structure and scope of employee benefits. The crisis highlighted the need for a more holistic approach to employee well-being, which has led to moving family leave and flexible work options from the periphery to the center of benefits discussions.

Complementing the rise in maternity and paternity leaves, there has been a 6-point increase in paid adoption leave, now offered by about a third of employers. Similarly, paid foster child leave saw a 3-percentage-point increase, now provided by 25% of employers. This shift underscores an expanding understanding and accommodation of diverse family structures and needs in the workplace.

Companies Pioneering Enhanced Parental Leave

Some organizations have emerged as leaders in this shift toward enhanced parental leave benefits. For example, the global media firm Thomson Reuters recently announced a generous 16-week paid parental leave program. This new benefit, available to all eligible employees regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or marital status, positions Thomson Reuters at the forefront of employee welfare.

Likewise, consumer healthcare company Haleon has made strides in this area, implementing an impressive 26-week paid parental leave policy for all employees.

Employee Perspective on the Value of Parental Leave

From the employee’s viewpoint, paid parental leave is more than a benefit. It’s a necessity. Recent surveys from insurance provider Unum and online insurance broker Breeze underscored this fact, revealing that workers value the availability of paid parental leave more than a variety of other benefits, including fitness, mental health benefits, vision insurance, or student loan repayment assistance. This prioritization highlights the incredible value of parental leave in employees’ lives when they need it the most.

Parental Leave: Looking Ahead

Considering current trends and the emerging emphasis on work-life balance, parental leave programs are predicted to see even further enhancements and increased adoption. Expanding such benefits signifies a radical shift in employer attitudes toward employee welfare, with ripple effects that may reach well beyond the office walls.

Other Evolving Trends in Employee Benefits

While parental leave takes center stage, it isn’t the only player in the benefits game. Pet insurance, a comparatively unconventional benefit, is finding a footing, with nearly 1 in 5 employers now including it in their benefits package.

Traditional benefits haven’t lost their luster, though. Healthcare and retirement benefits continue to hold their place in employers’ priority lists. In fact, 89% of HR leaders identified health coverage as being extremely important, with virtually all employers providing health coverage to their employees.

In a job market increasingly driven by employees, financial incentives such as bonuses and awards are seeing a noticeable uptick. For instance, nearly a quarter of employers now offer retention bonuses, reflecting a drive to retain top talent in a competitive landscape.

For more employee benefits resources, contact INSURICA today.

Copyright © 2023 Smarts Publishing. This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. 

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