The Ultimate Guide to Family Stipends

Family is a critical part of your employees' lives. Your benefits should reflect that. A family stipend is an ideal way to support all of your employees and their families, in whatever shape they take, by helping cover childcare, senior care, fertility treatments, surrogacy, adoption and more.

An employee's productivity levels and performance at work is hugely impacted by their life outside of work. And more often than not, that life includes family life. Whether they have young children or family members in need of care, are trying to grow their family in some way, or are in any other countless unique family settings, your employees are constantly trying to balance the challenges and stresses from home with work.

Truly great, people-focused companies understand this work-family-life conflict and do their best to take care of employees’ families in some way.

While offering individual family benefits is a good approach, such as some dedicated programs for adoption or fertility, what about employees who don't have a need for that? A more powerful and inclusive way to support all of your employees' various family needs is through a family stipend. With a flexible family stipend, more of your employees are able to gain valuable peace of mind in their family lives so that they can stay present, productive and engaged at work.

Here's what is covered in this guide:

  1. What is a family stipend?
  2. Benefits of a family stipend
  3. What a family stipend can cover
  4. Examples of family stipends from top companies 
  5. How to offer family stipends in your company

What is a family stipend?

First, a definition:

A family stipend, or family allowance, is a sum of money given to employees in addition to regular wages to help them pay for family-related expenses. 

When you offer your employees a family stipend, you not only communicate that you recognize the common challenges of family life, but you also "walk the walk" by taking positive action towards making things better for your employees and their families. A family stipend can do wonders for your employees' sense of appreciation and belonging at your company, as well as lower their stress levels and risk for employee burnout.

The categories that a family stipend covers can include: 

  • Childcare
  • Senior care
  • Family illness or injury
  • Fertility benefits
  • Adoption benefits
  • Surrogacy benefits
  • Petcare

Benefits of offering family stipends

Here are several major benefits of offering family stipends to your employees:

1. When you value your employees and their families, your company is valued in return

What you offer (and don't offer) your employees is representative of who you are as an employer. That means that by offering a family stipend, which supports your employees in an area of their lives that typically doesn't get a ton of special attention, you show how much you really care about them and their whole lives. This, in turn, helps employees see the value of an employer who genuinely cares.

2. Addressing family challenges increases your employees' focus, while reducing absenteeism and turnover

A family stipend has practical benefits for your company as well. A family stipend can help reduce the potential home-related distractions your employees are experiencing - particularly as so much work is being done at home these days - so that they can perform better at work. They'll also be less likely to need time off to take care of family things and also less likely to leave to work at another company that's more accommodating to their family lives.

3. Helping with your employees' family matters improves organizational health and combats employee burnout

Ask any of your employees who is also a parent or caregiver, or who is struggling to grow their family, and they'll tell you that it's exhausting. Offering a flexible family stipend that can alleviate the pressures that relate to family life can make a huge difference in your employee wellness and likelihood for employee burnout. This has a positive ripple effect on your entire organization in more ways that we could even think to measure!

4. Offering smart family benefits gives you a competitive edge in talent acquisition

Everyone in talent or people ops knows this very well, but it needs to be said: finding and keeping great talent is a constant challenge. Offering a family stipend is a powerful differentiator for companies who DO offer it because it sets you apart significantly from other companies who don't offer it or who only offer one-off family benefits that only serve some of their employees but not others.

If you're interested in exploring family stipends for your company, talk to a Compt stipend expert who can walk you through what's possible.

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Things you can cover in a family stipend

Below are some key areas a family stipend can benefit your employees:

Childcare

For parents of younger children, childcare costs take up a significant portion of many employees expenses on a monthly basis. And while the split is different for every company, both parents are employed in 63% of American families with children. Covering all sorts of different childcare options with a flexible family stipend gives equal support to both mothers and fathers on your team, by covering expenses for things like a nanny, a nightly babysitter, daycare, back-up care and overnight sleep consultant, just to name a few.

family stipends for childcare senior care

Senior care

Children are not the only family members who need care. In fact, the number of Americans ages 65 and older will more than double over the next 40 years, reaching 80 million in 2040 and a great many of those people are family members who want or require support. Offering your employees a family stipend that can also cover this type of expense is not only forward-thinking but so valuable for employees with aging family members who need their care.

Family illness or Injury

Your employees have sick leave and short term disability when they themselves are doing through illness or injury, but that's not the only time they'll be impacted by illness or injury. When someone in their family is going through a rough patch health-wise, whether it's one their dependents or someone else who they offer financial support to, your employee might very well be impacted. A family stipend is flexible enough so that you can help your employees in such a time of need, should it arise.

Fertility benefits

For couples who want to expand their family and are running into challenges for one reason or another, fertility treatments present new hope and many different avenues to pursue - but it comes with a price. While you can certainly offer specific fertility benefits from a vendor or service, offering a family stipend allows you to include this very particular need AND the many other potential family expenses on this list, with one benefit.

Adoption and surrogacy benefits

Adoption and surrogacy are two a very unique needs and experiences, but that doesn't diminish their importance in an employee's family life if that's what they're going through. A family stipend lets your organization honor these two very powerful and personal (and expensive!) journeys with equal attention as you might give to other more common types of family expenses.

Petcare

If you ask most people who own a pet (or several!), they'll likely tell you that their pet is a family member. Offering a flexible family stipend allows you to tell your employee pet owners that yes, you consider their pets as family too! Unless you work at a pet-focused company like Chewy or Petco, it's not often that employee benefits include coverage for pets; this is your easy and effective way to do that, making those employees feel heard and appreciated.

Examples of family stipends by top companies

The list of companies offering family stipends is ever-growing, but here are a handful that stand out as great examples: 

Bank of America, Washington, D.C.

The large banking company offers a childcare stipend of $75 to $100 per day to offset childcare costs for children up to age 12. The company also offers a stipend for the care of special needs children up to age 21.

Facebook, Menlo Park, California

Among its many employee benefits, tech giant Facebook offers coverage for its employees fertility treatment costs up to $100,000 (includes four cycles plus PGS).

Best Buy, Richfield, Minnesota

In December 2018, Best Buy announced a backup childcare benefit to working parents whose regular childcare arrangements were not available. Employees can use up to 10 backup childcare days per year and only need to pay a $10 copay for the benefit. Subsidized backup childcare is available when school or daycare closes for the day, a regular caregiver is sick or on vacation, or an unexpected gap occurs in regular childcare arrangements.

Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, California

The 15,000-employee hospital allowed parents who could complete their work from home to do so. For those whose duties required regular interaction with patients, Cedars-Sinai offered a $100 per day childcare stipend. The hospital also chose to retain employees when the freeze on non-essential medical care started rather than placing them on furlough to ensure their financial stability.

Unilever, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

This household company with a massive footprint and likewise massive employee base shows how much they care about family by offering fertility treatment coverage of up to $75,000

Kaiser-Permanente, Los Angeles, California

As the largest private-sector employer in America’s second-largest city, Kaiser-Permanente began offering a $300 per week childcare stipend to any of its 40,000 employees who needed it starting in April 2020. Employees can use the childcare stipend to pay a childcare center, home daycare, friend, or relative to watch their children.

Starbucks Coffee, Seattle, Washington

The nation’s largest group of retail coffee shops created a backup childcare benefit similar to Best Buy’s in October 2018. Starbucks made this move after accessing a National Children’s Health Survey that indicated two million parents quit their jobs in 2016 due to childcare issues. With benefit parameters similar to those of Best Buy, Starbucks employees can opt to pay $1 per hour for in-home childcare or $5 per day to a daycare center.

There are many more examples of companies doing family stipends successfully. If you want to hear what our customers are doing, click here to talk with a Compt lifestyle benefits specialist.

How to offer a family stipend

Creating a family stipend can be as easy as setting up any other type of employee stipend, but you should definitely think about whether you'd like offer them manually or leverage a stipend management tool to help you streamline it all.

However you choose to do it, here are four steps to setting up a family stipend:

1. Decide on your budget.

Think about all of the possible family types you have represented in your organization (large families? single parents? single adults with pets?), because that's a practical way to gauge what makes sense for a family stipend for your employees. You can start with an overall budget or a budget per person, but having a budget is a necessary step because that is what you’ll be passing on to your team. 

2. Determine spending timeframes.

Do you want to offer this monthly so you can ensure a monthly engagement, or do you prefer to spread it out over time such as quarterly, semi-annually, or annually? This is totally your call and again, it depends on what works for your organization's priorities around supporting families.

3. Upload these program details into Compt’s perk management software.

You can also select what date you’d like your perk stipend to begin.

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4. Lastly, invite your employees to spend their funds.

When using Compt, your employees can spend their stipend funds and manage the whole process in Compt's employee portal as soon as they get their invite email. If you're doing stipends manually, you'll need to keep communication lines open with each employee on an ongoing basis to answer questions like how to spend their family stipend, balance info, what's proper use, etc.

Just getting starting with stipends? Check out this detailed guide on how to set up your perk stipend.

Or, if you're more familiar with a vendor-based approach and need more information, here is a helpful Perks Vendor Cost Calculator to see what a difference going vendor-less makes.

Learn everything you need to know about Employee Stipends

Check out our free ebook that shows exactly why employee stipends have become the most common new benefit.

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