Disruption has hit us all over the past couple of years. While a lot of things are back to normal, some employees are still struggling with major obstacles in the form of reliable care for children and aging parents. As an employer, you may offer family and caregiving benefits that are amazing. But the very people these benefits and resources are designed to help are too busy juggling to take notice.
If your current method of sharing information with parents and caregivers is a find-it-yourself approach to learning about what’s offered from multiple providers, that’s not going to cut it. Parents and caregivers are notoriously busy and overwhelmed—now, even more so, with 70% reporting adverse mental health symptoms. Access to information and support needs to be as easy as possible—if it’s not, your employees won’t have time to seek it out, find it, or benefit from it.
To make sure you’re creating the most helpful parent and caregiver support experience, you must make sure it’s accessible by connecting and integrating family benefits. There are many ways to do this: digital guides created for each specific caregiving need, a microsite that holds all your guides and vendor details, targeted campaigns—the sky’s the limit. The mode and media depend on your population’s communication preferences. By consolidating vendor materials into information packages and creating environments for parents and caregivers to learn about what’s offered, you’ll make it easier to both communicate what’s offered and provide your employees with easily accessible materials.
So how do you reach them and communicate your company’s willingness to provide more support? Here are 5 things you need to know.
1. Start with listening
Listen to your employees before you start to communicate. Then, you can better connect the needs expressed by parents and caregiving employees with the resources you have for support. With usage metrics, you’ll also be able to measure qualitatively, as well as quantitatively, the impact of your outreach, giving you rich data to build a business case for enhanced support when needed.
2. Bring together important parties: your vendors and ERGs
Before you start sending mass communications to employees, bring together all involved parties to share what’s offered and discuss how different types of benefits may integrate with or complement each other. This includes your vendors and employee resource groups (ERGs).
- To engage your partners and understand the full value of their support, host a family benefits vendor summit. All vendor partners who offer family resources should participate. Having a summit will help you organize family vendors into one package of benefits from a communications perspective and create a dialogue among vendor partners that provides the opportunity to curate resources, as well as align vendors around common themes and issues. An outcome of this summit should be an action plan that details next steps, including how vendors can best work together to maximize utilization.
Your ERGs are also an invaluable avenue of support and feedback. Plan to partner with ERG leadership to improve awareness of and ability to speak knowledgeably about available parenting and caregiving benefits. As part of your outreach plan, you may include:
- Casual conversations for ERGs, where a member of the benefits team and/or vendors participate in providing information and answering questions about what’s offered
- Training, such as talking points, tip sheets, and FAQs
- Promotional materials that cater to an ERG’s population and its needs (for example, family-building benefits for LGBTQ+ employees, aging parent resources for caregiving employees, or child care support for parents)
By engaging with ERGs, you’ll reach a focused audience whose needs match up with the benefits your company provides. Plus, caregiving benefits are important for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). Parents of color are more likely to experience child-care-related job disruptions. The benefits you provide can make a difference.
3. Make your messaging meaningful
It’s one thing to acknowledge the struggles that parents and caregivers have. It’s another to truly connect. There are many ways that parenting and caregiving differ. And there are some employees who are doing both. Here are a few ways to address each employee’s unique situation:
- Put a spotlight on non-parent caregivers. Caregiving is often an unsung responsibility. There are fewer cute photo ops of aging parents who need intense care. But those who do this thankless work are the ones in need of support, and reaching them is essential to increasing utilization and reducing their stress. Use your company’s communications channels and ERGs to reach employees from all walks of life who are taking care of an aging loved one.
- Meet milestones and new life events—like the arrival of a new family member, the loss of a loved one, the new responsibility of caring for a loved one—with a gift and helpful information. This will give your employees something they need, as well as serving as a vehicle for meaningful promotion of supportive benefits. To identify who these employees are, consider a self-selected or opt-in survey that allows them to share what they’re dealing with or planning for throughout the year.
- Enable employees to become ambassadors. Provide training to employees who have used your family benefits and resources, so they can become ambassadors to promote that support for others. You can do this through webinar training, talking points, and promotional materials. When it comes to whom or what to trust for loved ones, peer-to-peer outreach is especially effective. By equipping employees with more information to share with others, you’ll create an additional communications channel through your people. Bonus: This approach also provides employee ambassadors with a rewarding and purposeful experience.
- Create a support-connection experience. Imagine a hub that includes a decision support tool, a promotional site, and integrates with an automated email campaign that connects all parenting, family, and caregiving resources in one place. People often have difficulty articulating what they need. By asking employees about their lives, who they care for or cover, what they’re dealing with at home, etc., you can direct those employees to benefits and resources that would best support their needs. It’s like magic, but with communications.
- Take it a step beyond caring for others. Mental health is a big issue for caregivers. Regardless of the life event or milestone, taking care of one’s family shouldn’t mean neglecting oneself. By aligning support resources with mental health benefits, caregivers will be more likely to use these benefits.
4. Roll out the message using all available channels
Once you’ve established the mission, met with important partners, and decided on your heartfelt themes, it’s time to bring in the most critical stakeholder of all: your people. Based on what you heard and what you know they need, create opportunities for your employees to engage with support. Depending on your population, your tactics may include:
- On-site events for the parent, family, and caregiving population. This group is a busy one. A family benefits summit or live event makes it easy to bring employees together to learn about what’s available and give a demonstration of support. An in-the-moment gift, like dinner-to-go, live entertainment for kids, on-site massage, or yoga class for caregivers, can provide instant relief and incentive to learn more about the benefits and resources. Make it fun and festive. This event can do double duty if your company is hoping to encourage employees to return to offices. Knowing that they have support for their loved ones at home can be half the battle.
- Targeted parenting packet mailed to homes. That’s right! Good, old-fashioned print communications will never go out of style. Especially for this audience. You can only imagine how many times charging a phone or laptop winds up being the last thing on the list. During this unplanned downtime, print resources can be a lifesaver.
- Talking points for managers. You may have great people managers, but they can always use help in learning what to listen for and how to direct employees to resources that make a difference.
- Talking points for on-site health center staff and doctors. If you have facilities like this on your campus, arm frontline workers with information about parent and caregiver resources, so they can share appropriately. Often, people will disclose stress and the source of anxiety to their health care providers. In addition to the medical support they receive, knowing that there’s more help available can be comforting.
- Monthly information sessions or webinars that allow your employees to drop in and learn about family benefits. Having a consistent schedule helps overscheduled parents and caregivers plan appropriately.
Is your population largely in person? Then consider adding these elements to the mix:
- Lanyard cards
- Table tents
- Dedicated representatives holding on-site visits to share information with employees
- Posters and signage within the facilities (weird but true: bathroom flyers are a thing!)
- Posters and signage at the on-site health centers
- Speaking points for on-site management and health center staff and doctors
- QR codes leading to a parent, family, and caregiver promotional site
- Text messaging campaign for those who aren’t accustomed to being at a desk or scrolling through sites for information
- Digital signage and pamphlets for health centers
5. Share your success, and keep the momentum going
Prospective new hires want to know that they’ll be supported and able to take care of their loved ones. What better way to do that than by showing the range of your parent, family, and caregiving resources to ensure that your company establishes itself as an employer of choice? Once you’ve demonstrated that you can support your people, you can use parent, family, and caregiving benefits and affinity group relationships to attract and retain top talent. Consider sharing employee testimonials on how benefits support them as they work and care for loved ones.
And don’t forget to measure your success!
Supporting your employees and their families isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Ensure that you’re providing what’s needed, by setting intentional outcomes that are measured in three phases:
- Awareness—Listen to employees at the beginning, midpoint, and end of each initiative to test familiarity with a benefit or resource.
- Appreciation—Put a method in place to collect a net promoter score to measure employee experience with your benefit offerings.
- Adoption—See an increase in benefit or resource enrollment and usage and a decrease in calls and emails for help.
Sharing family and caregiving support is always in style. By getting the word out on what you offer to enhance employee’s lives, you’re telling your people you see them as the vibrant, dynamic, multifaceted individuals they are. You’re a partner in their success. Just as they are in yours.
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