Creativity Counts in Getting, Keeping Workers

May 4, 2000 ( - A tight labor market is forcing employers to get creative in designing a better workplace. Workers are demanding - and getting - more choices in today's workplace, according to a new Hewitt Work/Life survey.

“Employers must offer these benefits to remain competitive in today’s war for talent,” said Carol Sladek, a work/life consultant with Hewitt Associates . “With the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years, organizations recognize they need to offer attractive benefits that enable employees to better balance their work and personal lives.”

Among other trends, Hewitt found that over a third (37%) of surveyed employers offer programs to help employees make retirement/investing decisions.

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Other key findings of the Hewitt Work/Life survey include:

Flexible Scheduling Arrangements

Workers have an expanding array of choices, as employers craft creative alternatives to the 9-to-5 grind. Among employers responding to the Hewitt survey:

  • 57% now offer flextime
  • 47% offer part-time employment
  • 28% allow job sharing
  • 28% have a telecommuting option
  • 20% support compressed work schedules
  • 12% offer summer hours

Kid Stuff

Overall, 90% of employers offer some type of child care benefits, including:

  • 88% offer dependent care spending accounts
  • 42% provide access to resource and referral services
  • 13% support sick or emergency child care programs
  • 10% provide on-site or near-site child care centers

In 1999, nearly a third of employer respondents offered adoption assistance, an increase of 10 percentage points from five years earlier. The average maximum reimbursement for those offering those programs is $3,100.

Mom and Pop Concerns

Of increasing interest to workers with aging parents are elder care programs, offered by 47% of employers, nearly twice the 24% that did so in 1994. Most common were:

  • 40% resource and referral services
  • 32% with dependent care spending accounts
  • 17% long-term care insurance
  • 4% offering counseling

Getting Personal

A full 52% of those surveyed offer some form of on-site convenience/personal service to employees. Most common were:

  • ATM (34%)
  • Banking Services (22%)
  • Travel services (18%)
  • Dry Cleaning (15%)
  • Discount purchases (12%)

Other trends that the survey highlights, include:

Dressing Down – Sixty percent of employers offer casual or business casual options. Over a third allow casual dress all the time, while 19% still adhere to “Friday casual.”

Back to School – Seventy-five percent offer some form of educational or professional development assistance. Educational reimbursement is most common, offered by 74%, but nearly a quarter offer developmental seminars or workshops, and 4% offer career counseling.

The Hewitt Work/Life survey represents data from 1,020 major U.S. companies, including 85% of the Fortune 100 and 57% of the Fortune 500 companies.