Making the Case for Family Care: The Value of Investing in Employees

A young professional father with a laptop bag on his shoulder and a baby in front of him
A young professional father with a laptop bag on his shoulder and a baby in front of him

Leading employers understand that family and back-up care benefits aren’t just costs you incur to keep your workforce happy. 

Caregivers are the fastest growing demographic in your workforce. Supporting these employees with their personal challenges creates more room for flexibility, creativity, and innovation at work.

With a proven link between offering family care and employee retention and engagement, these benefits are an investment in your people – as well as your business. In this session, you will:

  • Dive into the challenges facing your working caregivers and gain expert insights on the benefits that drive retention
  • Hear recent research from Economist Anna Zhou of the Bank of America Institute on workplace benefits and the impact of child care payments on families, workers, and consumers
  • Learn from Weill Cornell’s Senior Director of Human Resources, Eric Saidel as he explains how to support a diverse range of employees and care needs with child care centers and back-up care programs

Ready to evaluate new benefit program options? The Family Education and Care Benefits Guide or the Guide to Building a Child Care Center can help.

Read the full transcript

Hello, and thank you for joining us for this webcast, Making the Case for Family Care: The Value of Investing in Employees. This presentation is part of the SHRM webcast series. You can learn about upcoming and on-demand events from our e-newsletters and the webcast homepage at SHRM thanks Bright Horizons for sponsoring this program and our series of free webcasts for the HR community. Today's webcast will look at how providing employees support for their [00:00:30] personal lives can create more room for flexibility, creativity, and innovation at work. Leading our panel today is Jennifer Vena, vice president of Bright Horizon's Workforce Consulting, a global consulting practice that provides workforce wellbeing assessment, work-life strategic planning, and dependent care needs assessment consulting to clients across industries. Ms. Vena, the floor is yours.

Jennifer Vena:
Thank you. I'm excited to be here today [00:01:00] to discuss making the case for family care, the value of investing in employees. And as he just said, I'm Jennifer Vena, and I lead the consulting practice of Bright Horizons. I have spent the past 35 years partnering with organizations across industries and geographies to understand their employees' family care needs. Today, we're gonna start with a discussion about why it is important to support your employees with caregiving responsibilities, how you can support them, and the value to the organization of providing these supports. [00:01:30] Joining me today are Anna Zhou, an economist with Bank of America, who will share key takeaways from her recent internal analysis of childcare trends and how they're impacting working caregivers. And Eric Saidel, senior director of human resources for Weill Cornell Medicine, the top-ranked medical and graduate school. And he will share an employer perspective.

So, Eric, can you introduce yourself and Weill Cornell a little bit more for the audience, please?

Eric Saidel:
Sure, Jennifer. It's a pleasure to be here. I'm really, [00:02:00] really glad to be talking about this topic. Weill Cornell Medicine is the medical school of Cornell University. And we all know, I think, that medicine is constantly changing, but our compassionate, superior patient care is constant. Our mission is shaped by three parts, exceptional patient care, cutting-edge research, and education of the physicians and scientists of the future. We are among the nation's top-ranked medical and graduate schools striving for excellence in education for the world's future healthcare leaders. [00:02:30] And our research by our faculty and our graduate students, really, is looking to make incredible groundbreaking strides in the fight against all sorts of medical and health-related issues.

We see approximately a little over 3 million patient visits a year at over 150 locations across the New York Metro area. We have a campus in Qatar in the Middle East. And the impact of Weill Cornell researchers, scientists, physicians is truly felt across the world. [00:03:00] We really are pleased to be here as part of this conversation because ultimately, while we provide care outside of our organization, we also look to provide care for those within our organization, which we'll talk about a little bit later.

Great. Thank you. And Anna, would you like to introduce yourself a little further too, please?

Anna Zhou:
Yeah. Thank you, Jennifer. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Anna Zhou, and I'm an economist at the Bank of America Institute. A little bit background about the institute is, we were established around a year [00:03:30] and a half ago, and really, the purpose of it is to serve as an internal think tank within Bank of America that utilizes the bank's massive proprietary data set to provide real-time economic insights. And as a reference, our sample of customers include around 68 million consumer and small business accounts. We regularly track consumer spending, small business health, and we also do ad hoc research topics. So, [00:04:00] today's session will be highlighting one of our recent work that's done around childcare payments and how that has impacted families and workers and just consumer spending in general. So, I look forward to the session today.

Thank you. So, employee needs and expectations have evolved rapidly over the past few years. So, to get us started, Eric, could you provide us with an overview of Weill Cornell's workforce engagement and benefits philosophy?

Absolutely. As an employer, we are committed to providing [00:04:30] the resources that our outstanding faculty and staff need to care for themselves and for their own families. We take great pride in offering a very robust package of benefits that's designed to support their physical, mental, financial, professional, emotional needs, really, across the full spectrum. And we try to meet people where they are, whether it's individuals just starting their career, those at the middle stages of their careers, or those who are nearing those retirement ages. Wherever people are, [00:05:00] we try to meet them in terms of what their particular needs are and what their future aspirations may be.

On the engagement side, we have a really deep and broad approach towards diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice. And we focus very, very intently on engaging our population, again, whether you are part of one of our three specific mission areas: student, faculty, staff, whatever the case may be, [00:05:30] really trying to find ways to connect every single individual, and there are almost 10,000 of us, with at least one aspect of our mission under the larger umbrella of what we do here at Weill Cornell.

Terrific. And Anna, your team deals with a lot of data every day. Are you seeing anything that speaks to the latest trend on workplace benefits?

Sure. So, actually, a separate team from us at Bank of America recently released this year's report on workplace benefits. [00:06:00] A little bit background for the report is based on over 1,300 employees in the U.S., and around 800 employers. And one thing that stands out to us is that this year, we're seeing an increasing percentage of employees saying that they're feeling stressed about their finances. If you look at the numbers, only 42% say they feel financially well, and that is the lowest number over the last 5 or 6 years. So, why is that? [00:06:30] Mostly because a lot of people report that cost of living has been increasing more than their wages and salaries.

This is interesting because as economists, we actually track these indicators. If you look at average hourly earnings, which is published by Bureau of Labor Statistics, you look at the year-over-year increase on that and compare with the CPI inflation, also year over year, you actually see that wage growth has now been higher than inflation over the last few months. So, why are people still feeling that [00:07:00] they can't keep up with the cost of living? The problem is that CPI was increasing faster than wages for almost two years until middle of this year. So, because that two years is a pretty sustained period of time, psychologically, the impact is longer lasting, even though you see wages pick up again in recent months.

But once again, these numbers speak to national aggregate. And obviously, everyone's experience will differ a little bit. And in terms of how employers think [00:07:30] that they can provide support to employees that are feeling stressed, many have responded saying that employees would like to seek more advice from their employers, especially on benefits plans such as 401(k) and HSA.

Great. Thank you. Well, all employees, we're definitely all feeling the impact of rising costs and inflation. When we're thinking about caregivers, financial stress is likely an acute challenge for working caregivers as well as we've seen the cost of [00:08:00] securing care go up during this time too. So, let's talk for a few minutes about the state of the modern family and working caregivers. I recently read a Harvard Business School study that reveals caregiver is the fastest growing employee demographic in today's workforce with 73% of all employees having some type of current caregiving responsibility. And while caregiving goes beyond caring for the youngest of children, it won't surprise you that [00:08:30] working parents represent a large portion of working caregivers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more dads in the workforce overall. And as children get older, more moms work as well. So, you can see the stats on the slide there. It is widely recognized that over the past several years, working parents have had more responsibilities and more stress than ever before. Anna, based on data you see, how prevalent are caregivers at the [00:09:00] workplace? And how do they balance caregiving in their career?

Yeah. As you mentioned, when we think about caregiving responsibilities, it's not just childcare, it also includes family care, elderly care. But I'll use childcare as an example. So, if you look at data, again from the BLS, there are over 33 million families in the U.S., or 2 in every 5 families that have children under 15. So, that is already a pretty big share. And if you, on top of that, include caregiving [00:09:30] responsibility for other family members, that share of caregivers will be even higher. But when we look at some of the survey data, there seems to be a mismatch between what employers perceive the percentage of caregiver to be versus what the actual number is.

So, for example, in the same Workplace Benefits Report I quoted earlier, employers tend to think only about 35% of their workforce are caregivers, whereas when you survey the employees, over half of [00:10:00] them identify as caregivers. So, it's interesting to see that there's a mismatch between employer's perception and what's really happening. And for those caregivers at work, what are some of the common ways that they balance their work and their responsibilities? When we asked that question, we found that most chosen answer is using vacation times, with nearly 40% of respondents choosing this option, and then around 15% and 16% say that they will reduce their work hours to [00:10:30] balance these work and caregiving responsibilities.

Yeah. Very interesting. That can lead to burnout if you're using your vacation time to take care of people instead of to rejuvenate yourself. I think the caregiver crisis is here to stay. In fact, a recent Boston Consulting Group report forecasts the U.S. will lose about $290 billion a year in GDP in 2030 and beyond if we don't figure out a solution for it. [00:11:00] Eric, while Cornell has been supporting working parents for a long time now, can you share a little about the needs you're seeing in your workforce?

Yeah, absolutely. And as we've already alluded to, the diversity we're seeing in terms of family structure and caregiving responsibilities is something that we're thinking a lot about because it is so prevalent. We have a very broad range of employees from...when you think about our faculty and our researchers, our healthcare providers, our students, and all the staff who support all of the things that we do, [00:11:30] it's an incredibly diverse group. And the differences are shown in all the different family makeups and the responsibilities they have. But so many of them, as we've been talking about, really do identify as caregivers, whether it's for younger children, parents, some combination, other family members. It seems to be certainly the rule rather than the exception.

And we know that if we want them to have the peace of mind that they need to be at their best and to provide [00:12:00] the best care to make those advances in research to help with the education for the future, we have to help support them in the reality of their own individual situations. We've been working with Bright Horizons for more than a decade to support these needs. And our relationship with Bright Horizons has evolved over time in response to the needs and the feedback that we are getting from our population. Look, we're in New York City, childcare especially here, but really everywhere is hard to find and is extremely expensive.

I spent three [00:12:30] years on the board of a not-for-profit focused on childcare resources in the New York Metro area. And the costs are staggering. The impact on families is just mind-blowing when you think about how expensive it is and how difficult it is to find high-quality, affordable childcare. On top of that, we're competing with so many other healthcare organizations and healthcare employers in our space, in the New York Metro area. We know we can't always win on salary, but some of these other areas that really support people in their own [00:13:00] family structures, in their home aspect is one of the ways that we try to stay competitive and to really make a difference in people's lives and offer something that just dollars in a paycheck can't necessarily replace.

I think the last point to raise is the pandemic had a huge impact on childcare. It took a huge toll on healthcare workers who didn't have the luxury of working remotely in many cases, and had to still be on the front lines and figure out childcare [00:13:30] when many, many childcare places reduced their offerings or stopped altogether on top of just the ultimate pressures and increase in burnout and pressure that we saw during that time. So, ultimately, we work to remove these additional stressors to try to allow our employees to bring their best selves to the workplace every day and to continue to have the impact that we strive for as an organization. It's an ongoing challenge. It's a battle that feels like uphill all the time, but we're very thankful for our relationship with [00:14:00] Bright Horizons to help us navigate it.

Thank you. And I think it's real important. You mentioned it's hard for them to find childcare. And so by providing the supply, you're really supporting them and meeting their family care needs. What we found, each year we release the "Modern Family Index." [00:14:30] It's a study that we do to give employers a view of what families are managing and how it may impact their work. And this year, we released our ninth one. And I'm gonna share a few highlights from it for you. What we found kind of mirrors what you were finding in your workforce, Eric, that families are as busy as ever, and they continue to struggle as they juggle competing responsibilities.

Some of this could be a result of working parents not being able to find the accessible and affordable childcare they need. The extreme childcare shortages have left 49% of parents saying they don't have the childcare they need. And what we found in the study was [00:15:00] for frontline and essential workers, 63% call piecing together childcare a full-time job, and say it is difficult to manage their work schedules around the availability of childcare. So, Eric, to give us a little bit more, does that make sense? Is that what you're seeing and hearing in your workforce as well?

Absolutely. We see it in just general requests for resources and support. We do see it in terms of people [00:15:30] advocating or requesting for more hybrid and remote work opportunities so that they can supplement or piece together childcare where they're not otherwise able to make other arrangements or arrangements that they can afford. We see it in absenteeism in some cases when there just is no other option. We see individuals relying on family members, neighbors in some cases. It's a really wide range of things. And it takes a toll, it takes time, it takes energy, it takes effort to do that. [00:16:00] I think about that in my own situation with my own children over the years. You know, what happens when your kid gets sick on the day that you really can't miss work? How do you manage all of that?

And we're seeing it, not only in terms of what people do in their current situation, but we're seeing people change their situation. There was a recent "New York Times" article that said parents are leaving New York or cutting their work hours or changing jobs specifically because of the costs and availability or [00:16:30] lack thereof for childcare. That same article shared that more than half of New York City families are spending more than they can afford on childcare, and this includes both lower income and higher income families, that the costs are just staggering. When I think about healthcare, we have a labor shortage in healthcare. You know, so many people have left the industry over the last several years, and we can't afford to lose people who are in their prime work years and who would otherwise be filling these jobs for us, simply [00:17:00] because they are in their family-growing years, or they have care responsibilities that they can't ignore.

Solving for childcare challenges is really complex. It's not a one size fits all. Everybody has varying needs. There are geographic issues, there are financial issues, of course. And it's really important to dig in and try to understand the various pieces of the puzzle and see where you can offer some kind of value. We'll talk about it a little bit later, but we have onsite [00:17:30] care centers. Many employers cannot afford that or simply don't have the space for it. There are government and local support programs available, not-for-profits, as I mentioned earlier, but it's very hard for people often to find the information to figure out what those resources are and how to get them.

So, there really is so much that we, as employers, can do to help support our employees who are struggling with these various care situations. The last piece I'll say on this, it really goes beyond [00:18:00] just having someone care for your child so that you can get to work because high-quality childcare is the foundation of our future talent pipeline. There's so many studies that show the value of high-quality early childhood education. Early childhood care is essential to help ensure the best and brightest future for the workers of tomorrow, for the population of tomorrow. So, the children in our centers today may very well be our students, faculty, and staff of tomorrow, and we really need to keep that perspective [00:18:30] in mind. So, investing in childcare at the employer level, at the government level, wherever you are, it really offers both short and long-term benefits for all of us.

Yeah, it definitely does. You remind me of a story, we did consulting with another healthcare organization, and they really talked about their biggest pain point being meeting the level of experienced personnel on the floor at any one time. And it felt like just as their clinical staff [00:19:00] became experienced is when they chose to start having families. And if they couldn't find care, they left the labor force. And those were the people they needed to keep the most because they had the experience to then help train the new hires and keep the floors running. The sad part is, by all accounts, over the coming months, parents could be under even more stress when it comes to finding and affording high-quality childcare. As you all may have heard, [00:19:30] The Century Foundation estimates 3.2 million children are likely to lose their care due to a steep decline in federal funds of childcare programs that ended on September 30th with the expiration of the American Rescue Plan Act, also called ARPA.

So, with the loss of those funds, many childcare centers are projected to have to close. So, the funds the government provided helped keep centers open as labor costs increased, and they weren't able to pass all those costs onto the parents. And so it helped them [00:20:00] manage their financial situation, which is now gonna go away. So, it will surely have a ripple effect with parents either having to leave the workforce, as we've talked about, or cut their work hours. And then businesses will lose those talented employees. And they'll experience that impact of their employees' childcare disruptions. And then the state economies could lose tax revenue and jobs in the childcare sector as well as a result.

And [00:20:30] really interesting, it appears the impact is already being felt as work absences due to childcare problems jumped in October from 55,000 in September to 92,000 in October, according to a Barron's article. So, the impact was felt pretty quickly in seeing more people calling out from work in order to take care of their children. The Century Foundation also provides a state-by-state view. You gave us a little preview into New York, Eric, [00:21:00] but it gives us state-by-state view of the potential impact. And we're going to share a link to the report when we share the link to the webinar recording later. For example, I'll, I'll highlight a couple of states here. In Texas, it is projected that nearly 300,000 children will lose their care, which would result in $961 million less in employer productivity.

And in Washington, over 2,000 childcare programs are projected to close, making it harder for families [00:21:30] to find safe, nurturing, childcare options, and then also costing employers $239 million in productivity. And then lastly, you talked about New York, so it's got the biggest numbers here. It's projected that more than 250,000 children will lose their care, which could cause parents to lose $846 million in earnings, and then costing employers $1 billion in productivity. Some pretty staggering numbers there that really show how valuable and important [00:22:00] childcare is for our labor force and productivity as a country. And that story is the same across the country.

We just highlighted a few states there, but every state and every employer is impacted by this shortage. These expected childcare closures will compound the current childcare crisis. A recent "Washington Post" article reveals 83% of parents with kids under 5 agreed that finding quality, affordable daycare [00:22:30] was a serious problem where they lived. And half of the country is called living in a childcare desert, just having an extreme shortage of care. We're gonna do our first poll now. So, whether you are a rural, urban, or suburban employer, we'd love to hear from you about what you are hearing from your employees.

So, we want you to pick one issue. I only get one answer. The top issue regarding childcare that you hear the most [00:23:00] about from employees. So, those options are accessibility, it's hard to find, it's not available, lack of supply. Affordability, what is out there they can't afford quality care, they're not comfortable with the care that is available. They don't feel good leaving their child there. The hours to match work schedules. So, this is often common for healthcare or manufacturing or retail or any industry [00:23:30] that has unusual hours in shift work. It could be all of the above. So, we did allow you in your one answer to kind of capture everything above there. Or if you have another issue, then we have another option for you as well. So, I'll give you a minute to fill out the poll.

And it is interesting to note the accessibility, affordability, and quality are what we commonly refer to [00:24:00] as trilemma. And they are the three challenges working parents have had historically, they just have really been exacerbated now following the pandemic. All right. Are we ready to go to our results? Oh, they're up. Okay. So, affordability is top in the charts here, or all of the above. So, that definitely got the vote. [00:24:30] So, it looks like the impact of the economy as well is really impacting and elevating cost. And Anna, I'm not surprised to see affordability popping up on the poll. So, what do you see in terms of childcare spending, and how does it relate to the overall economy?

Yeah. Also not surprised about the poll results, because childcare costs along with basically every aspect of the economy have seen a surge in price [00:25:00] since the pandemic. So, recently, in one of my reports, we're trying to quantify how much people are spending more on childcare now versus pre-pandemic. So, what we did is we looked at all of our customers' payment status, which include every channel that you can think of that relates to a bank. So, that ranges everything from credit, debit card spending, ACH, checks or wires. We were able to identify childcare payments specifically. And what we found is the [00:25:30] average childcare payment has increased over 30% since 2019. So, on an average month an average family is paying 30% more than they were in 2019.

And what's really interesting to us is we also cut this data by income cohort. And across the income spectrum, we find the increase of these childcare payments to be more notable among upper-income household. So, we think there are two reasons behind this. One is, [00:26:00] these families, which are the upper-income household, can better absorb the rising cost. So, when you are faced with 30% increase, these family are likely to be like, you know what, we'll just pay it. Whereas if you look at the lower end of income spectrum, when you really increase your price by 30%, some of them might have to cut back hours that they're sending their kids to these facilities, or some might even drop out of the service altogether and just have one parent to bear on the responsibilities.

So that is explaining [00:26:30] why we're seeing the increase in spending on childcare to be more notable in upper income. And another interesting observation is that there was actually a mini baby boom during the pandemic. And when you're looking into who are the parents that are having these babies during the pandemic compared with the prior episodes, we find that the recent boom was largely driven by mothers of higher education. So, these families are more likely to fall into [00:27:00] upper middle-income household as well. So, these two factors explain for the observation we just saw.

Now, what are the macroeconomic implications for higher childcare costs? In our view, there are two main areas. So, the first one is related to labor force. And both Jennifer and Eric, you kind of touched on about that. Because childcare responsibilities still disproportionately fall on women. So, the availability and affordability of childcare could impact [00:27:30] a woman's ability to work. So, what we like to track for that is actually the prime-age woman labor force participation rate. And what you saw during the pandemic is actually there was a very big improvement in terms of prime age, which is defined as those between 25 to 54 years old. For these women's labor force participation, you saw really strong increase during the pandemic.

And part of the reason for that is because of the [00:28:00] widespread work-from-home arrangement allowed many working mothers to both work and take care of their kids. So, that's why we're seeing more women in labor force during pandemic. But now that workers have returned to office, and on top of that, you are seeing childcare costs soaring, which is making it unaffordable to many families. What we saw is, really, since June of this year, the prime-age woman labor force participation rate has started to tick back again. So you made [00:28:30] big progress in the pandemic, but there's a small reversal over the last few months.

So, obviously, that's not a good sign for the labor market, given that in the U.S., we are seeing a pretty structural labor shortage. And it's not just focused on healthcare. You're seeing labor shortages in leisure hospitality, in the streets that are pretty widespread. So, now you have some of these parents unable to work because they can't bear the cost of childcare. They are leaving labor force, which is, we're already [00:29:00] having a labor shortage. That's definitely not such good news for the U.S. labor market. The second macroeconomic invocation is specifically focused on families that have these young kids. Because they are feeling a bigger pressure from rising childcare costs, it is leading them to spend elsewhere.

And if you think about U.S. GDP, it is over 70% of U.S. GDP is consumer spending. So, if you were to get [00:29:30] some pullback in consumer spending, this will definitely have a negative impact on the overall macro environment. So, for example, when we look at our sample of customers, we divided them into two groups. One is the ones that are actively paying for childcare, and the other ones that are not. And we look at how they're spending trends relative to each other. And what we're seeing is that, again, since the summer of this year, you see families that are paying for childcare, they are spending at a much slower pace [00:30:00] elsewhere relative to families that don't need to pay for these services.

So, again, the impact on the national level so far is still pretty small, but this divergence in trends definitely speaks to the additional financial pressure that families with young kids are having.

Great. Thank you. And it does feel like given our economic times and the high cost of care affordability, if you can't [00:30:30] afford it, that is your major pain point. We do have a finding in terms of quality being an issue as well, just because it's an also extremely small supply with only 11% of care nationwide being accredited. So, I just wanted to highlight that as well, that the importance of the type of care that you want children in quality care for their future life is also important. But clearly, right now for parents, affordability is what is overshadowing everything else. [00:31:00]

These are all major stressors for families, especially those in the sandwich generation. We are hearing more from clients that they have more employees in the sandwich generation, so they're caring both for children as well as aging parents. And one data point is that more than half of Americans in their 40s are caring for both children and parents. And this is projected to continue to grow as the baby boomers continue to age. [00:31:30] We did a survey last year on millennials and Gen Zs, and we found there that more than half of them feel stressed about their parents' physical, mental, and financial well-being. And even some of them don't yet have the direct caregiving responsibilities for their parents, but they feel the pressure of their aging parents. They kind of know it's looming and coming soon. Eric, are you hearing that more employees are caring for both parents and children [00:32:00] in your workplace as well?

Absolutely. In fact, I'm a member of the sandwich generation myself, or several people on my own team in the HR department. we've definitely seen an increase in questions from employees about the benefits we offer, the programs we offer, the resources specifically around supporting aging or ill parents and other family members. We've noted an increase in use of job-protected leave, specifically FMLA, to care for aging parents. sort of [00:32:30] as a separate parallel track to, you know, obviously leave related to childbirth and early childcare. And the numbers are really increasing. And as baby boomers continue to age, this need is only going to increase. We have certainly all five generations represented in our workforce and the numbers that you've shared on the slides here really resonate with what we're seeing in our own organization.

And what's so interesting to think about is when you have [00:33:00] children, when you start a family, when you have children, you know you're gonna have to find care for them. It's part of what you expect. You can, to some extent plan out for how long you're gonna need it, and you can think ahead to what you're gonna do about it with all the challenges that we talked about, but there is a known need there. When you're talking about your parents, it's much less certain. You don't know what they're gonna need, when they're gonna need it, what that's gonna look like, [00:33:30] where that care's gonna be available. I'm fortunate that my parents, although they're in their 70s, are relatively healthy but my sister and I are waiting for that shoe to drop, unfortunately, as they continue to age and as we think about what could possibly happen, and we really just have no idea of what the situation that they will be faced with and we will be faced with in terms of supporting them. And we're certainly seeing this throughout our population.

And [00:34:00] also, sometimes this need can come on extremely fast, a parent who seems fine and healthy and managing really well, I'm sure we all know situations from our own families or from those close to us where seemingly out of the blue there's a medical situation, emergent or not, that all of a sudden requires you as the caregiver, the child or grandchild in some cases to kind of drop everything and be there for that person who [00:34:30] was always there for you in many cases. So, that's an additional level of stress that's sort of unknown and often the urgency related with some of these issues. And it's not as clear what to do, how to get started, what's needed. I don't think most of us are as involved in our parents' healthcare as we are in our children's healthcare, understanding what's going on, who the caregivers are what the options are. And the resources available are not always as comprehensive [00:35:00] or as readily accessible.

So, these employees who are especially dealing with both ends of the spectrum are really looking for a lot of support. And as we strive to think about benefits, equity, and really forecasting what our benefits portfolio should look like in the future, it's really becoming even more important to think about all five of those generations that are represented in our workforce and what's really gonna be relevant and resonate with them [00:35:30] at any given point, and to continue to broaden that portfolio of resources as far as we possibly can.

Yeah. I think you hit it right on the head there in terms of children for the most part go through developmental stages and you know what they need and you know that you need to find care until they go to elementary school and then they progress through school, and then you get them into college if that's their chosen path, etc. But the parents don't take a linear [00:36:00] path by any means. And so, you really explain that well, it can happen in an instant and each one can be different, so you're not kind of repeating the same steps for one parent as you might've done for another parent. So, it really is challenging and employees do need a lot of support in that area, because it takes a lot of time and adds a lot of stress to their lives.

What we found according to AARP is that the economic value of family caregivers' unpaid contributions [00:36:30] is approximately $600 billion based on providing an average of 18 hours of care each week. And that's an average. So, if someone is caring for both their own children and a parent, they could be spending significantly more time. So, there's a lot of focus outside of their work hours for you as employers that could be going to caregiving that is unpaid for them but is keeping them from being able to, again, get the rest rejuvenation, exercise, whatever they might need to [00:37:00] focus on their own well-being to bring their best to you at work and to thrive in their own lives.

Before we move on to how to help employees solve these challenges, because we've talked a lot about the challenges, let's check in again and do another poll. So, on this poll, you get to check all that apply. So, check as many of these that match for you. Are you seeing an increase in any of the following? So, that is leave requests, you know, employees asking for [00:37:30] family leave, extended leave to take care of family members, schedule changes. So, needing to change their hours of work or reduction of work hours. So, go to part-time or do some different type of schedule. Request to remain remote or hybrid. So, as people are either requesting people come back to office or are they trying to get an exception to that request because of caregiving needs, call-outs from work, or just plain absences? And then lastly, [00:38:00] resignations.

So, you can check one or all, or anything in between as you complete the poll. I'll give you a minute to pick your answers. Okay. And the results are up. So, obviously having a lot of people pick multiple answers, [00:38:30] looks like our top one is people wanting to stay remote or hybrid, followed quickly by leave requests. So, needing time off to manage the situation completely. That is interesting. We could do a whole other webinar on return to office for those of you who have roles where employees have the ability to work remote or hybrid. So, Eric, [00:39:00] let's talk now about, now that we've gotten the context of what working parents face today and the challenges they're faced with, can you share some of the solutions Weill Cornell has put in place to support working caregivers?

Yeah. I think we'll start with childcare then we'll get to some others as we go. The cornerstone of our program we're very proud of is our two onsite childcare centers that we provide for employees in and around New York City. Our centers are open from 7:30 [00:39:30] in the morning till 6:00 p.m. everyday recognition of the extended and shift hours that healthcare professionals work. We also offer a summer camp program in the summer when kids are out of school. Obviously, summer is a time when parents of school-aged children need help filling in the gaps that school usually provides, and our summer program helps extending that reach and impact.

We're committed to providing students with the best education available. We recognize that high-quality early education, [00:40:00] as we talked about before, really helps build a pipeline of future students and strong workforce participants. And we understand that many of our employees wanna advance their own education and careers and that childcare helps them do that as well. Our goal really, as I've mentioned, is to provide high-quality childcare to as much of our population as possible and to do so in an affordable way for those families. I'm proud to share that tuition at our childcare centers is about one-third of typical New York City childcare [00:40:30] market rates.

We work very hard and in strong partnership with our partners at Bright Horizons to be able to keep those costs down as low as possible. And we calculate the rate that families pay based on their household income. So, we really wanna try to meet people where they are. Again, as we mentioned before, there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. And we try to reflect that in our pricing for the childcare centers as well.

Great. And Anna, Eric just mentioned the New York City market, [00:41:00] and I know you have some data on kind of how markets do vary, cost is not the same across the country. So, can you share a little bit about that?

Yeah, sure. I think one way we can understand where workers need the most help, it's probably looking at where childcare is the most expensive and in what cities they're growing at the fastest pace. So, same as the analysis I just mentioned, when we look at our customer's childcare payments data, we can see a clear regional divide. So, larger cities such as [00:41:30] San Francisco, Seattle, and New York, they have the highest childcare payments just on a dollar value, which is nearly twice as the national average. This data is as of September of this year.

This is not really a surprise because price levels in larger cities just tend to be higher, but at the same time, wages are also higher. So, it could partially provide an offset. So, we therefore think looking at where childcare payments is growing the fastest, might give us additional [00:42:00] light as where the pressure is building. So, when we look at that, we are seeing places like Tampa, Atlanta, and Dallas are seeing the fastest increase in terms of average childcare payments, and they're growing at around 10% year over year. So, that is a pretty astonishing number. And part of that reason is during the pandemic, we saw this massive domestic migration of people leaving coastal larger cities and to the Sun Belt regions. And the influx of people [00:42:30] increased the demand for all services, including childcare services. And this kind of demand-supply mismatch has also led to a much faster increase in childcare cost in the cities and certainly building financial pressure for these families.

Great. Thank you. We have, you know, as Eric mentioned, they have reduced tuition for their employees. That's part of the benefit to the employees to help them with the cost of care. [00:43:00] And, you know, in return getting retention and recruitment and additional productivity and less call-outs and whatnot, we'll get into a little bit more in a minute. And so, it's not just large employers that are doing this, we also see some smaller organizations taking this on in order to support their business needs. And some of them are in more rural locations where there is even less supply of care available because they cannot charge as the tuition levels needed to support [00:43:30] the offering of high-quality care.

So, we have a couple of examples. Miller County Hospital is a small healthcare system in Georgia, and they are in the midst of building an onsite center to support their 700 employees and their families. And we have a manufacturing organization that's family-owned, Vermeer Manufacturing in Iowa that built a center in recognition that the shift nature of their employees' work makes it difficult to find care, especially because they are located in one of the many childcare deserts. [00:44:00] And lastly, Colorado School of Mines is building a center. And a fun fact there is they just had their groundbreaking, and the female faculty and staff showed up to the groundbreaking holding thank you signs. So, they are super excited to be getting this benefit.

Onsite centers, though, they're one terrific solution, and one quick ROI data point for you is we did a study of one of our largest healthcare clients and found that while their average employee turnover is 29% [00:44:30] across the board, turnover for employees who use our childcare centers with them is 7%. So, really demonstrating the retention benefit of an onsite center. But Eric, I also realize that the modern workforce today is dispersed somewhat, and you do have employees who aren't necessarily by one of your childcare centers. So, how do you support employees who may not be able to benefit from the centers directly?

[00:45:00] It's a great question and one that we've really, I think, made a lot of progress on, although of course, there's always more to do. We certainly recognize that we can't accommodate every child in our two centers and that we have employees who live outside of a reasonable radius to make those centers convenient and some who don't come into the office at all because they work fully remote. So, we changed our relationship with Bright Horizons to add a subsidy. So, we offer a 20% subsidy on tuition at any Bright Horizons center [00:45:30] across the country for any of our employees. So, if they can't make it to one of our centers, they can get discounted rates on the Bright Horizons center closest to where they do live.

It's really helpful for our employees who live in this area surrounding New York City in the five boroughs and the suburbs, even those commuting in from Connecticut and New Jersey. Again, we are fortunate to not be in a childcare desert here in the New York City area for the most part. So, many, many of our employees do have access to a local Bright Horizons center as well. [00:46:00] And in addition, we've really seen...this was something also that came to us directly from our population, from some of our lower earning research staff, from our postdoc population for example. They really felt that this was an important aspect of their lives. And I'm really glad that we were able to figure out a solution to make the centers, again, outside of the two we have in Manhattan, available to more people.

Another [00:46:30] really important piece of the puzzle is backup care. We offer our employees 25 days of backup care a year. They can use these days if their childcare provider is unavailable and to help fill in coverage gaps for holidays, school vacations, and summer. And I've heard a lot of stories about how backup care really saves the day, having that as an option. And, I wanna also point out that while roughly two-thirds of our backup care usage are for [00:47:00] school-aged children, the program goes beyond that. There's an aspect to offer tutoring for older children and also care for aging and ill spouses and parents. So, it really tries to be a fully comprehensive program, and again, to what we talked about earlier, trying to meet as many of our population as possible where they are in their own lives and their own family situations.

We talked about the sandwich generation growing, the average age of nurses, for example, is 46. This means their parents may be reaching an age where they need [00:47:30] care and assistance too as we've talked about, and as I think we all know, women carry the burden of caregiving in the family to the larger extent. And it's even more intense if you work in healthcare. If you're a nurse or a doctor, you're the first person the family will call when someone else needs care, and it just throughout your whole life. So, backup care really helps us support our employees at all of our locations and regardless of their role, not just the ones who live close enough to use our onsite care centers. [00:48:00]

Care is offered in the home, which makes it more convenient for our employees, giving them more flexibility and choice, and can be available in the centers as well if there's space. So far this year, I checked the numbers, we've had more than 4,000 uses of our backup care benefit. And those are work shifts that were saved for us. Those are people who were able to do their job because someone else was able to provide care for their child on an almost emergency basis. Nine out of 10 employees who've taken advantage of backup care say they would've missed work without it. [00:48:30] And this of course helps them think of us as an employer of choice, which again, given the competition we face in the healthcare space, is certainly something that's very important to us.

And we actually hear really great feedback. We're gonna share some of the quotes here. Some of the feedback, direct feedback we've gotten from our employees about the impact that it's had. I won't read it, but you can see here that, "Backup care was a godsend to our family as without it work would not have gotten done." I mean, it can't get any clearer than that, [00:49:00] I think, on the value that we have here. So, we're really thrilled that we're able to offer a multifaceted approach to providing our employees with support and resources for such a broad range of their caregiving needs.

That's great. And I'm thrilled to see you're having such a positive impact from your Bright Horizons offerings. We did some calculations for last year. We'll finish them [00:49:30] for 2023 here as the month ends, but in 2022, our backup care program saved 1.2 million workdays for all of our clients across many industries. So, it really is a valuable benefit to help both people that have to work in-person, remote or hybrid, because all employees have care needs and coverage gaps that need to be addressed so that they can be productive for you all at work. And while many of our employers, when we talk to them about the benefits of their family [00:50:00] care supports, they often cite many things that are intangible or hard to measure. We did our latest research study to try to put some hard data to the ROI of family care benefits and programs, and it was focused on STEM employees, but the takeaways can apply across industries.

We think about childcare breakdowns leading to parents being out of the office or away from work, whatever that work might be, but we also are hearing now about the impact on productivity, innovation, and collaboration. [00:50:30] So, our research found that 40% of parents said childcare difficulties impact their productivity at work, 34% said it impacted their ability to collaborate and innovate at work. And over half said childcare difficulties impacted their attendance at work. So, just physically being there or at the computer or whatever their work is. Our study on STEM employees also found additional education opportunities for themselves and childcare for their children would impact nearly [00:51:00] everyone's decision to either change organizations and go work for an employer who offered either one of those or to go back to the STEM field if they had left.

So, what we find is that there's a lot of employees with STEM education that have chosen to leave the STEM field for a variety of reasons, and this would help get them back into the STEM field using that degree. So, 92% said an opportunity to advance their education would impact their decision to change employers. And 90% of those who had left [00:51:30] the STEM field reported that onsite childcare or backup care would impact their decision to rejoin the STEM industry.

And again, it's not just parents in the STEM industry who would likely have these findings. According to a recent article in "The Washington Post," 69% of job-searching mothers with young children said they'd be more likely to choose an employer that offered onsite daycare or financial assistance for childcare. And more than 80% of both men and women said that childcare [00:52:00] benefits would be an important factor in their decision to stay with their employer. So, really getting that retention benefit there. Eric, can you share some of the benefits you're seeing with the many ways you support caregivers?

Yeah. Absolutely. We've talked about how fierce the competition for talent is in healthcare in particular it may have cooled in some other industries, but certainly not for us, and certainly not for us here. So, being in such a highly competitive industry in such a highly competitive [00:52:30] geographic area, and as I mentioned, not always being able to offer the most in terms of compensation, this is really where we see an impact on retention and on engagement and satisfaction to the point that you raised earlier. We advertise these programs and these benefits as a way to attract candidates and also to retain the high-quality employees that we currently have on site. Showing that we are there for our employees when they need us, caring [00:53:00] for the caregivers, it's a phrase that you hear, but it really rings true for us.

It's part of who we are as an organization, and that care that we provide does not just go out into the world, into the communities that we serve, it's focused inward as well in the community that exists within Weill Cornell Medicine. And these benefits, these resources, these are the ones that stick, these are the ones that really impact people when they are at their most vulnerable, and in ways that really can resonate and can sometimes make up for [00:53:30] other areas where we maybe can't be as competitive. So, I think by supporting our employees based on their individual needs as best as we can, we really can help keep them engaged, help keep them retained, and prevent callouts that obviously then have impacts on the care we can provide as an organization, and ultimately work to support holistic wellness in the workplace.

By helping people feel more centered, stable, less stressed [00:54:00] about their situations, we're hoping to avoid and reduce some of the burnout that we hear so much about in the healthcare space.

Yep. Thank you. And I just looked at the time, and we are almost outta time here, so I wanna thank Eric and Anna for joining me today. And we would like to answer a few of your questions. So, hopefully, you've been typing some in, or we'll give you a minute here to type them in as we're gonna show you just a really quick video on the value Georgia Power has found by having their work site childcare center. [00:54:30]



Caroline Earle:
Having access to the childcare center has been life-changing. Without it, we would have to have one parent stay at home, I wouldn't have been able to excel at my job the way I do. It has just really helped have a work-life balance.

Travis Bell:
Having the childcare benefit as an employer, as an employee here at Georgia Power makes me feel that we actually care. And it validates that [00:55:00] Georgia Power is not just talking about work-life balance but in partnership with Bright Horizons, we're living it.

Courtney Collins:
As we know, work and family life balance is a struggle, and juggling a full-time career as well as being a parent is a bit of a balancing act.

Juliana Usme:
People say that it takes a village to raise children, and Bright Horizons is really a part of my village.

Number one, we are an electric utility. So, when we have weather events, we show up, we shine the brightest when the lights are out.

Raven Scarborough-King:
Having a [00:55:30] childcare center that understood the needs of the business and align the schedule of the operations with the business has been extremely beneficial to me.

Shannon Harris:
So, we spent a lot of time meeting with employees and found that this was something that helped both men and women as we were looking to increase retention at the company and also really have it as a recruitment tool to say, "Georgia Power's focused on you and your family."

Julie Paul:
I think having access to the childcare helps Georgia Power recruit talent just for the [00:56:00] well-being component that knowing that Georgia Power not only says that they're family-focused and promote work-life balance, but they have avenues and opportunities to actually walk the walk.

Billie Culler:
It gives me time to actually focus on work. Having a two-year-old at home and on the phone and trying to work is very difficult.

Raul Rodriguez:
Let me focus on the other part of my day job, and that's being present and being there for my team at Georgia Power. [00:56:30] So, really to answer that, I get to be fully present at my Georgia Power job.

It gives me space to do my job without worrying about who's taking care of my children. I've been able to participate in work activities that I wouldn't have had access to if I didn't have someone that I trusted to watch my children.

With women having access to the childcare, it shows that Georgia Power is diverse, that lets me know that they think about me, they value me [00:57:00] not only as an employee but also as a woman and a mother as well.

As we talk to new hires and we highlight the different perks and benefits from a 401(k) standpoint to the medical benefits that come with employment here, we also highlight the benefits of having a childcare center right next door. And for those that have children or those that are thinking about having children, that resonates with them, resonates and leads to [00:57:30] either retention or ultimately recruiting.

We're focused on you and keeping you as an employee here long-term. The childcare centers to me is probably the best sales tool that we have to show that.



This webcast is sponsored by Bright Horizons. Bright Horizons is the leading global education and care company. It partners with employers to provide exceptional early learning, [00:58:00] family care, and workforce education solutions that transform lives and organizations. Bright Horizons addresses the biggest obstacles to performance while supporting working families at every life stage with customizable solutions. You can learn more at Let's start and get a couple of questions in here. We'll start with this one. Audience member asks, I think this may be for Mr. Saidel, "There are five generations in the workforce, how do you assess [00:58:30] and support the needs of each of these generations?"

Open communication really is the key, finding ways to engage with your employees, whether that's through a more formal employee experience or engagement survey or pulse surveys or just really keeping good track of the requests and comments that come through your center. But we're very well aware of the generations we have in our workplace. And we also, fortunately, have a lot of people with a lot of longevity [00:59:00] at the institution. So, we've been able to track people's sort of growth and change over the years. And maybe it's part of being New Yorkers, I'm not sure, but people are really not shy about telling us what they need. It's on us then to listen and to keep track of that, and to incorporate that into our planning.

Question here for Ms. Zhou, an audience member asked, "You mentioned the biggest increase in childcare spending has been in the $100,000 to $250,000 income group, [00:59:30] what are some of the factors do you think that may be affecting this trend?

Kind of as I mentioned, I think these income cohorts, one is able to absorb the cost better versus for the lower income, they might reduce their hours or just drop out of the service, which is why you're not seeing as much of a strong year or year increase in their average healthcare payments. And another factor is that when you look at the families who are driving the recent baby boom, families who are having young kids these days, [01:00:00] there was a big concentration for a woman with higher education who tend to fall into this categorization as well.

And we'll close with this question. Again, sorry, we can't get to all the ones coming in. But for the panel, whoever feels like they could answer viewer rights, "Where should HR start when it comes to helping ease the stress that comes with childcare?" I assume it'd be something like remote days or reducing schedules, but I'm looking for other ideas.

I'll start. I think [01:00:30] it's a little bit fact-specific to your organization and your structure. So, I really think the key is to listen and to ask the questions and to listen to the answers, to find out what are the challenges that your population is dealing with, or multiple challenges for multiple parts of your population. And then assessing sort of what your resources are, what relationships you have in place, what support you have from senior leadership in terms of funding and opportunities. Understanding all of that I think is a great way to start. But [01:01:00] I really want to underscore one of the big aspects of this, and we didn't talk about it specifically, but your employees want to feel heard, that you hear and recognize and understand the challenges that they're facing, and that you're working to try to support them through those.

Yeah. I would just piggyback on what Eric said and that we sometimes do focus groups with employee populations, so that listening piece he's talking about. And sometimes you get very simple solutions that are very impactful for caregivers. One I remember was, we had, [01:01:30] I think it was an energy company that had a standing, like once a week 7:00 a.m. meeting in person. And that was really a challenge for people who either need to get school-aged kids to school or to get younger kids to childcare. And so, just like, "Could you move that back to 8:00 or 8:30?" So, sometimes some simple changes can really help take stress away from working parents' lives.

Thank you. We are coming to the end of our program. Before we sign off, we wanna thank our presenters [01:02:00] for the information they provided today. And we wanna thank everyone tuning in for being with us and for choosing SHRM for HR webcasts. That concludes this program.


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