The Inside Scoop on Back-Up Care

One of the notable (but perhaps not surprising) findings of a recent study of back-up care for children and adults/elders is that a lot of employees use it.

One of the other equally notable findings is that even employees who haven't used it consider it an indispensable "employer of choice" benefit...and are really grateful they have it.

The take away: don't underestimate the emotional benefits of being prepared.

Benefits for Employees

The comfort effect isn't surprising. Employer-sponsored back-up care  emergency arrangements that can be quickly accessed when regular care for children or adults/elders falls through  is reassurance by design. Worrying about what you'll do if you have to be at work during school vacation or a parent's health crisis can use up a lot of energy. Not worrying means freedom to work.

"The reassurance of a safety net just can't be overstated," says Lucy English, one of the principal investigators at Horizons Workforce Consulting®, the group that conducted the study. Elder care in particular is on people's minds right now. Everyone from the AARP to the Bureau of Labor Statistics has heralded a significant rise in people with such responsibilities, the latter putting the number today at more than 39 million. With many boomers reaching their senior years every day, it's a figure that's sure to grow.

What that means for those in or approaching the midlife years the most likely people to be responsible for the care of an adult   is that those who say they haven't needed back-up care for an elder relative likely haven't needed it...yet. In high-tech terms, think of it like the saying about computers: among users, there are those who back up...and those who are about to.

"We all have aging loved ones and we know at some point they're likely to need help. Not having to worry about what you're going to do when the moment comes seems to free up a whole lot of intellectual space even for those who aren't in that situation right now."

Benefits for Employers

The psychological benefits of such assurances play into any number of critical employer goals  from productivity to retention to "employer of choice" recruitment. But the immediate, tangible benefits of back-up care also can't be overstated. For organizations, back-up care can make the difference between a day lost to things like weather closings, sick nannies, and school vacations...and a day spent on the job.

And that adds up. Employers offering Bright Horizons® Back-Up Care Advantage Program® (BUCA®), for example, saw more than 620,000 usages, and more than 460,000 days saved in 2012 alone. Such statistics translate not merely to just individual workdays preserved, but to the overall safeguarding of precious business continuity.

"On any given day, employees are experiencing breakdowns in their normal dependent care, as well as emergencies, and schedule changes at work," says English. "If there is a solution at the ready, they can focus their mental energy on work instead of worry, and that means they spend less time searching for a solution, or worse...missing work altogether. "

Join Bright Horizons February 28 at 1 p.m. for the webinar, Back-Up Care at Work: the Insider's Perspective. Find out what back-up care does for employees and employers, and learn what Bright Horizons' Back-Up Care Advantage Program can do for you.

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.