Offer flexibility

“In the old world of work, flexibility was a nice to have,” notes Katie Burke, Chief People Officer of Hubspot. “In the future of work, it’s really a have to have and it’s an imperative for caregivers.” And caregiving duties are more likely to fall on women: three in five caregivers in the US are women and two in three single working parents are mothers.4

Accommodations such as remote work options or non-traditional work schedules can give much-needed flexibility for caregivers who may be balancing a full-time job with added duties supporting children or aging parents. Allowing employees to break from a standard nine-to-five schedule can help them to make room for their personal situations, permitting them to take their family member or child to a doctor’s appointment, school, or allow for their other unique needs without losing time at work.

And flexibility isn’t just valued by caregivers. Guardian’s report Workforce 2020: Meeting the benefit needs of today’s diverse workforce in a changed world found that not only do 72 percent of caregivers rank flexibility and empathy from their employers as “highly important” but more than half (52 percent) of non-caregivers do as well.

Address financial stressors

Workplace benefits are extremely valuable to women and play an integral part in promoting their financial wellness. Guardian’s report Workforce 2020: Women and well-being found that 32 percent of women verses 21 percent of men say they’d face financial hardship if they didn’t have the benefits they received through their employer.  And four out of five women report that they don’t see a financial professional.

Access to benefits that include professional financial guidance and strategies can give women the tools and information they need to make informed choices and financial decisions. “What we’ve seen have the greatest impact is bringing women together and bringing in the expertise of other women, in terms of making the financial strategy a key element of their success,” notes Linda Hogan, Vice President, Employee Relations at Guardian. Employers should also consider offering both group and one-on-one sessions with financial professionals, since some women may find a group setting to be prohibitive.

And make sure women can take advantage of these services by offering access to benefits during off-hours or through recorded sessions.  “Women want the flexibility of access to resources when they need it,” says Hogan. “A lot of women can’t get access during the traditional work hours, so they often need some support in making those connections.”

Don’t wait for employees to ask for what they need

If your company offers flexibility, support for caregivers, or mental health services, don’t wait for an employee to ask for help — make it clear that these services are a part of your company culture. “The barrier to ask for help is a burden placed on employees,” notes Burke. “Don’t assume that people are psychologically safe enough in your workspace to ask for help. Normalize that everyone needs more flexibility right now.”

Train managers on your benefits policies and empathetic leadership so that they are empowered, equipped, and well-versed in benefits to help address their employees’ needs. Normalize talking about flexibility, taking breaks, and taking leaves such as bereavement or parental leave.

Communicate about benefits often and through diverse channels

Employers can never communicate about benefits enough. And multi-channel communications can be important, especially to a multi-generational workforce. “We have about four to five generations in the workplace and we all receive work so differently, and we all communicate so differently,” says Tanya Morris, Founder and CEO of Simply HR, LLC. “I would encourage employers to look at different ways of communicating.” Text messaging, emails, webinars, or infographics can all offer different ways to reach your employees and help provide a robust enrollment experience.

Take feedback on your benefits offerings

When it comes to offering support, flexibility, and benefits, it’s very easy for employers to assume that all employees want the same thing or want traditional offerings. Yet, 52 percent of our webinar participants reported that their company had not asked for feedback on their benefits offerings in the past three years.4 Employers have an opportunity to optimize their benefits offerings by hearing from women directly to better understand what resources really make a difference.

Learn more about ways to support the well-being of all employees by visiting Guardian Edge, our resource center for the latest research and insights. 

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McKinsey Global Institute, “COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects,”, July 15,2020

2 3 Claire Ewing-Nelson, “Another 275,000 Women Left the Labor Force in January,” National Women’s Law Center, February 2021

3 Caregiving in the US 2020,” The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, May 2020

4 “Making Benefits Work for Women: What’s your strategy,” Guardian National Webinar Series, March 31, 2021

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