As working parent challenges continue to stack up, this unprecedented school year has added even more. With schools trying to navigate how to educate students safely, parents are challenged with tough decisions, hectic schedules and added academic burdens, all while continuing to juggle their professional responsibilities, making employee school year support critical.
A Country Financial survey found that parents with children 17 or younger are facing new expenses and tough decisions this year. More than half of parents said they’re experiencing additional financial concerns as a result of the pandemic, including increased child care, food and new technology costs.
Additionally, due to changes in school or child care options, the Country Financial survey found that 21% of parents have reduced or changed their work hours to stay home with their kids, while 19% said they’re relying on family or friends to assist with child care.
The 2020 Deloitte back-to-school survey found COVID-19 has elevated parents’ concerns around health, finance and the quality of education that students received this spring. Nationally, 66% of parents said they are anxious about sending their children back to school because of COVID-19.
The Deloitte survey also showed 51% of parents are spending more on internet-based learning resources YoY, such as virtual tutors, subscriptions to e-learning platforms and online classes. Due to the disruptions in learning during the spring, 57% felt their children are not academically ready for the next grade. Concerned that students will fall behind caused 51% of parents to increase spend on virtual learning tools.
It’s clear that this school year is making working parents’ lives more difficult, possibly impacting productivity, morale and retention. With that in mind, many forward-thinking employers are implementing employee benefit programs to help their workforce navigate these challenges, including:
Online Tutoring & Academic Resources
To help ease some of the educational burden that has been hefted onto working parents nationwide, employers can provide access to online academic programs that offer on-demand access to expert professional tutors and resources. Additionally, this support can help ease the stress and struggle many parents are experiencing as they are tasked with helping their children learn. In fact, we’ve seen a 600% increase in requests for LifeCare specialists to assist in finding tutoring agencies and a doubling of clients providing their employees with Homework Connection, LifeCare’s service that provides personalized access to professional, live tutors and academic tools.
Backup Child Care
Offering company subsidized backup care as regular care plans are disrupted will help working parents bridge care gaps and remain focused and productive while working, knowing their children are being cared for by either trusted caregivers they know or vetted care providers. We’ve seen many of our clients rely heavily on this program during this time, with a 600% increase in utilization. We’ve also seen clients either increase their available care allotment or implement a new program entirely. In recent months we’ve seen an 83% increase for our Backup Care Connection, a service providing temporary care solutions that help bridge care gaps that might arise throughout the school year.
Ongoing Care Support & Care Subsidy Administration
Researching solutions for all of these unique challenges is time-consuming, no doubt impacting employees’ focus at work. Furthermore, having to juggle schedules, drop-off and pickup times, finding and vetting various programs and their ongoing professional responsibilities can feel next to impossible for working parents. Offering Work-Life programs to do the time-consuming research will save employees stress, money and time.
Understanding the new child care demand on working parents, many employers have also begun offering financial relief for employees, but are then being burdened by implementing and running the program functions. Subsidy administration programs can help employers manage and administer this program, saving your team time and stress.
Emotional Health Support
In the face of all this demand and uncertainty, working parents may find themselves stretched too thin, experiencing increased stress levels, anxiety and emotional health concerns. That’s why it’s important that employers offer Employee Assistance Programs so employees have somewhere to turn to help manage these emotions. It’s also imperative to regularly share emotional health resources and information to help employees recognize if they have an issue and learn how to cope.
With finances being one of the top stressors for employees before the pandemic, with all the added expenses of this school year it’s vital that employees receive the financial wellness guidance and tools that can help them protect themselves and their loved ones from the impact of the pandemic, both in the long and short term. At LifeCare we’ve had a 100% increase in client demand for MoneySense, LifeCare’s financial literacy program that tailors its solutions to the member’s unique needs, resulting in it being offered to thousands of new users in August alone.
While parents are purchasing more for their students this year, offering employees an easy to access, complimentary discount program that can help them save on the things they need now, including school supplies, electronics, groceries, meal delivery, child care, home office equipment, and more, is a great way employers can alleviate some of their financial burden. In fact, we’ve seen a 300% increase in demand for learning and tutoring services offered through LifeCare’s, LifeMart employee discount shopping platform.
As we look forward to the months ahead, the LifeCare team has been proactively planning for the next chapter of challenges organizations and employees will face. We are aware that the current state is continuously changing, and our team is working diligently to stay abreast of the evolving trends and needs. Our programs are uniquely positioned to support members right now. To learn more about how we can support your organization and employees with a customized program, contact us here or call us at (866) 675-3751.