Our third annual listing of the most fertility- and adoption-friendly workplaces in America.
No question, it’s a tough time to run a business. Faced with the worst economy in more than a quarter-century, frugal managers are scrutinizing costs to remain competitive. “Managing the cost of employee benefits, particularly health care, continues to be among the most important trends,” reports the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a trade association of 250,000 members. In its 2008 benefits survey, SHRM found a 2 percent decrease in the number of organizations offering infertility benefits, falling from 30 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, only 16 percent of companies in 2008 offered adoption assistance, down from 20 percent of companies surveyed in 2007. But even in this economy, the news is not all bad. There are still plenty of great family-building benefits to highlight in this year’s annual 50 Best Companies roundup.
“Many organizations are focusing on small changes they can make to their benefits plans,” states the SHRM benefits survey, “that will help them save costs but also maintain their ability to attract and retain employees.” The good news is that while one-third of all workers are concerned about a reduction of their workplace benefits over the next 12 months, fewer than 15 percent of employers actually expect to make these cuts.
Consider Exceptional Software Strategies Inc., a small Linthicum, Maryland-based company that creates software technology for government use. Competition for the brightest employees with top-secret government clearance has always been fierce. That’s why Exceptional Software won’t cut back its stellar benefits, which include up to $100,000 for fertility treatments, despite the harrowing economic climate. “We look at other costs that we can cut, that are transparent to the employees,” says Paul Stasko, the company’s co-founder and vice president.
Workplace surveys confirm that benefits keep employees happy. Nancy Costikyan, director of Harvard University’s Office of Work/Life, explains that Harvard sees its benefits program as a cornerstone of its plan to help employees juggle family and work life at a critical time. “We want to support the families so that the employees can be available, productive, engaged.”
For Deutsche Bank, adding adoption or infertility benefits, coupled with solid (paid) parental leave, has proven a successful formula. After an internal analysis in 2006 showed that retention rates after pregnancy left much to be desired, the bank upped its paid primary caregiver leave to 16 weeks and allowed new mothers to phase back to work gradually over an eight-week period after their maternity leave. “There was definitely a marked improvement,” says Bernadette Whitaker, Deutsche Bank’s human resources chief operations officer for the Americas. By 2008, retention rates among women post-pregnancy had increased by nearly 30 percent. And despite the financial meltdown, Whitaker says Deutsche Bank’s blue-ribbon family benefits are not in danger in the foreseeable future.
In other words, helping employees build their families and juggle their work and home lives makes good business sense no matter what the state of the economy. Conceive salutes this year’s Top 50 Companies that recognize this reality and continue to offer these stellar benefits.