Top 10 Employee Benefits for Working Parents

Most of today's moms and dads are working. According to a 2023 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics...

  • 91.2% of families with children have at least one working parent.
  • Among married families, that number is 97.4%.
  • And two-thirds of these married couples with children are dual-income families.

But that accounts for a tiny fraction of today's families. Recent data from the US Census Bureau finds that fewer than 18% of households are married with parents and children. Other Census data reports one-quarter of children grow up with a single parent and no other adults. And one in two children will see their parents go through divorce.

No matter how you look at it, the "traditional" American household accounts for a shockingly small number of today's families. In addition to their day jobs, the vast majority of parents are balancing responsibilities at home with almost no support.

To improve their employees' lives in and out of the office and stand out as one of the most attractive places to work, tons of companies have taken it upon themselves to support working parents through a comprehensive benefits package.

In today's article, we'll show you our favorite family-friendly benefits (and how you can implement them).

Employee benefits working parents want most:

Paid parental leave

We're talking maternity and paternity leave here.

Paid maternity leave is normally what comes to mind (if anything does) when people hear "parental leave," but that's not at all what we'd call an inclusive benefit.

It doesn't consider...

  • single-father households
  • same-sex families
  • adoptive parents

...or the fact that dads need this time to support their recovering spouses and be a part of their newborn's life as well.

Hewlett Packard, lululemon, Netflix, and Spotify are among the hundreds of leading companies to offer working parents of any gender at least six months of paid parental leave.

The number of companies offering paid maternal leave actually fell from 2020-2022 from 53% to 35%, which is why some companies go above and beyond. Amazon's Leave Share program, for instance, enables employees to extend six weeks' worth of paid leave to a partner who cannot access it through their employer.

Now THAT'S what we call inclusive.

Flexible work arrangements

Parenthood pays no mind to the typical 9-5 workday. You're always on call.

Besides the ability to spend time with their newborns, arguably the most important thing for new parents is flexibility.

There are a few ways to offer flexible schedules:

  • Remote work (and remote employee perks) is the best way to support parents' work-life balance. It isn't always possible, depending on the nature of their work.
  • Parents might appreciate a compressed workweek, where they work four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour ones.
  • Unlimited PTO benefits parents (and everyone else) because they can take time off when their kids need them without being docked pay or worrying about overages. They can even set their own hours without sacrificing pay.
  • Option to work part-time or flexible hours. Parents might appreciate this option, particularly if they're transitioning back into work from parental leave and need some time to adjust before returning full-time.

Employers that offer these options see increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention rates. It's a win-win for everyone.

Health and wellness stipends

Shameless plug, here. Using Compt to offer health and wellness stipends to working parents is an easy way to support their physical and mental health.

A stipend is the best way to offer extra health benefits because it gives your employees total control over their own health and wellness priorities. For Webflow and plenty of other companies, it's been an absolute hit.

They could use it for:

  • Counseling for new parents
  • New parent recovery
  • A gym membership
  • Yoga classes
  • Meal delivery services to save time and avoid the grocery store

This is especially valuable to parents who are always on the go and rarely prioritize their own health.

Childcare support

Depending on the size of your company, child care benefits could include:

  • On-site child care centers
  • Backup care
  • Family stipends
  • Reimbursements for certain child care costs

SAS is the perfect example of a company doing child care benefits right. The software company's high-quality on-site daycare and preschool (600+ children use!), childcare subsidies and on-site summer camp options explain why it's been named one of Fortune's best places to work in the US for working parents for over 20 consecutive years.

Business travel coverage

It's a lot harder to travel for work when you have a kid. And the costs stack up when you have to pay for child care while you're gone.

Some companies, like USAA, offer coverage for child care expenses while parents travel on business.

Affordable health insurance

In 2023, the average premium for family health coverage is $23,968 per year. For many families, that's unaffordable.

Access to quality, affordable healthcare is one of the biggest challenges American workers face. To make it more affordable for working parents, consider paying a larger percentage of your employees' dependent coverage, self-insuring to reduce costs, and offering high-deductible family-inclusive health plans.

529 contributions

Roughly one-third of parents use college savings plans to prepare for their children's education expenses. Employers who contribute usually do so through a 529 matching plan, meaning they match their employees' contributions to a 529 plan up to a certain limit.

While your contributions aren't tax-deductible at the federal level like they would be with a 401(k), some states do offer tax breaks. In Colorado, for instance, employer contributions are eligible for a 20% tax credit up to $2,500, per employee.

Student loan repayment assistance

We discuss the how and why of student loan repayment for all employees in another article, but here's the gist:

  • 45 million adults have outstanding student loan debt.
  • Those with caregiving responsibilities and child care expenses will have a harder time paying them down because of their larger financial burden.
  • Employer-sponsored student loan assistance is tax-free, up to $5,250 per employee (through 2025).

With a student loan stipend, it's incredibly easy to set up (and relatively low-cost to offer). Since only 8% of companies currently do, it's also your chance to differentiate.

Return-to-work programs

A return-to-work program is designed to help new parents gradually re-engage with work. Their responsibilities don't magically disappear when they're on leave, and returning to a 40+ hour workweek gives them no opportunity to readjust and find ways to manage their time.

Amazon offers returning parents up to 8 weeks of flexible work hours to help them balance work with their ongoing childcare responsibilities. Asana's AsanaUP Returnship offers tailored mentorship, training, and support for parents who put their careers on pause to care for their children and now want to return.

"Welcome back" gifts

A little appreciation goes a long way. And having a baby is definitely a milestone worth celebrating!

It's also a huge adjustment period, so helping working parents out with a little extra cash can make all the difference.

It doesn't have to be a huge amount. UKG offers employees $300 per dependent for extracurricular activities or a $750 contribution to their Dependent Care FSA account, for example.

With stipend software, you can also get creative about the name of the stipend and the categories in which it can be spent.

BONUS: Benefits that go above and beyond

If you really want to set yourself apart, you can get creative with it. Here's a look at some unique benefits you could offer to support working parents:

  • Peer-nominated awards — Peer-to-peer recognition helps employees feel more comfortable, included, and appreciated. American Express incorporates it into its company culture by holding an annual award event where employees nominate working parents. Winners get exclusive recognition and 10,000 Blue Awards points, which they can redeem for merchandise and gift cards.
  • Fertility benefits In addition to supporting new parents with $4,000 extra cash and adoption assistance, Facebook and Apple offer $20,000 for fertility treatments.
  • Adoption assistance benefits Adoption assistance is a family care benefit that supports non-traditional families. And your employees aren't subject to income tax on it.
  • Lactation support — This could include private lactation rooms, free breast milk shipping for moms on business travel, or free breast pumps.
  • Maternity concierge services — In 2017, Fifth Third Bank launched its Maternity Concierge program. The goal was to help new moms with things they need outside the office, like laundry, dry cleaning, and groceries, so they could focus on their work and their children. In 2022, the program's concierge services saved parents and parents-to-be 27,162 hours.
  • "School's out" care programs — We mentioned above that SAS offers on-site summer camp. If you're already in a position to offer on-site daycare, all you have to do is hire a few camp counselors and get a little creative with its structure.

Supporting working parents is easier than you think!

You might not have the corporate office to offer on-site child care or the budget to cover a $20,000 medical bill. And the nature of your business might not allow for working remotely.

But that doesn't mean you can't do anything to support your working moms and dads.

It's easy to get wrapped up in what the world's biggest companies are doing. But, no matter your company size, offering stipends through Compt is the best place to start.

You can onboard your employees, set eligibility, and auto-disburse them through payroll with just a few clicks. From there, they have all the freedom to choose what's most important to them. See how it works.

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