Supporting working parents with family friendly benefits fosters an environment that reduces employee stress and promotes career growth without compromising family life. As part of a Total Rewards strategy, Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSA) have become a groundbreaking strategic tool to help innovative HR leaders revolutionize how their organizations cater to the unique needs of these talented professionals.

One critical component of an LSA is the ability to offer creative solutions that address the challenges of all working care providers, which have disproportionately affected working mothers (or primary caregivers). 

More than self-care alone is required to avoid burnout, which many employees experience when trying to balance family needs. Time and innovation are where human resource and people operations teams can make an impact. 

Here’s what we’ll cover: 


The pain points for women, mothers, and families 

Since the pandemic hit in 2020, study after study has consistently shown complications for working mothers. 

These include:

  • Pay equity gaps
  • Work-life integration support needs
  • Career advancement that doesn’t punish for time off 

Women are also blazing the path to empower other disenfranchised groups to do the same. In 2023, women began returning to work in record numbers – or leaving their positions to find better ones. According to a joint 2023 CNBC and Momentum study polling working women in the US, there were several standouts: 

  • 52% sought out a position with higher pay
  • 51% were looking for less stress and pressure
  • 48% wanted a better work-life balance
  • 35% sought a more significant path to career advancement

Fun fact: Of the 10,278 people nationally surveyed, 13% left to launch their own companies. 

Some of the more troubling statistics are regarding mental health. Feeling the need to work longer hours and delaying PTO has led to greater burnout. 

Read: How Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSA) support mental health well-being programs

Susan Lovegren, Fortune 500 Chief People Officer and luminary speaker shared life-informed insights with people leaders: “When I was at Hewlett Packard, we had a program that supported working mothers in a way that is absolutely relevant today,” Lovegren described. “I took time off to have my child. The company supported my time off and enabled me to work-share with another mother and not lose a bit of my career stride.”

Job sharing enabled the continuation of Lovegren’s career, including a manager track. They pro-rated her pay, bonus, vacation time, and supported benefits with 30 hours or more per week worked. “This increased my loyalty and positive impression of HP as a progressive company serious about retaining talent.”

Discover: How returnship programs empower prospective employees after a career break

“Who people are is part of the people and culture experience,” discussed Sylvia Flores, Chief of Brand and Culture for Espresa. “When we consider benefits, Total Rewards go from expected to personal. Lifestyle Spending Accounts say we see you. You are not one-size-fits-all. We recognize you for who you are, along with the people who make your life.”

Career ambition and family care: no longer mutually exclusive

However, more than family leave policies are needed to retain working parents. In a recent Paychex survey of 2,000 employed mothers with childcare-aged children, 35% noted the difficulties of returning to the workforce after parental leave, with breastfeeding being one of the top challenges of returning to work.

Employers risk losing top talent when women aren’t able to realize their full potential at work.

Motherly’s fifth annual State of Motherhood survey found that 46% of mothers cited childcare issues as the main reason they willingly left the workforce in 2021. Childcare issues were also the primary reason working caregivers sought new employment opportunities. And this isn’t a new challenge. A 2015 Washington Post survey found that nearly 75% of mothers and 50% of fathers chose to prioritize childcare over work opportunities.

Employers risk losing top talent when women aren’t able to realize their full potential at work. According to research by Chief and Accenture, companies that equitably support their workers saw an increase in workplace culture outcomes, such as trust, job satisfaction, and innovation amongst female workers.

7 ways to create a family-friendly workplace

The benefits a company provides to its workforce represent a view into the health of workplace culture. Successful leaders know offering flexibility to their people is essential. People-oriented companies empower people-first support by creating policies and providing benefits that reflect career ambitions and family responsibilities. 

While women have been a focus area for companies due to the significant and documented impact endured during the pandemic, they have also shined a light on the overarching household. 

This has included all matters of care – children, elders, other-abled or significantly disabled, and even pets – families of all kinds have been invited into the company family benefits fold. 

Here are seven ways LSAs are being used to impact family support positively:

1. Provide flexible benefits that allow family providers to return to work

Savvy companies create smart, people-first policies. Customizable and flexible benefits, such as an LSA, allow people leaders to tailor their benefit offerings to reflect the values and hearts of their workplace. 

Create a reimbursement plan to positively impact those physically providing for little ones by offering benefits for stroller reimbursements, babysitters, lactation coaches, doulas, or smart bassinet sleepers.

“We may have shattered that glass ceiling but we are still trying to work and parent while tiptoeing among the shards.”

2. Equitable benefits for all

Promote equity in the workplace by extending your LSA benefit to all employees, regardless of gender. By recognizing employees’ diverse caregiving responsibilities, organizations create an inclusive and supportive environment where everyone feels valued.

Read: 6 Ways to support working parents for an inclusive workplace

3. Support caregivers in the workplace with benefits designed for life

“If you created a workplace designed with the single parent in mind, you’d cultivate loyalty and create a culture of inclusion and belonging,” says Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Moms First, in an interview with Chief

“By supporting inequality in benefits, companies are sending a message about whose labor we value and whose labor we don’t.”

Create people-first cultures by offering benefits to support working parents, such as caregiving-focused Employee Resource Groups where employees can share their challenges of balancing work and caregiving and share resources. Or offering flexible or hybrid work options.

4. Embrace family-friendly policies

The childcare crisis is estimated to have cost the U.S. economy $122 billion in 2022, according to a survey from Ready Nation. An estimated $78 billion of that is attributed to lost wages due to insufficient childcare. To boost productivity and retain talent, companies have an opportunity to step up and provide flexible work options to support working parents and embrace family-friendly policies. 

Consider offering equitable organizational support for both working mothers and fathers. Airbnb and Pinterest, for example, offer supportive and equitable models for paid parental leave.

5. Milk shipping for nursing mothers

For breastfeeding mothers, the challenge of maintaining a work-life balance is compounded by the need to provide for their infants. LSAs can include reimbursement policies to cover milk shipping services, allowing mothers to send breast milk back home while traveling for work. 

Companies like Milk Stork and Save The Milk are offering innovative shipping options for breastfeeding mothers. LSA policies can provide a valuable reimbursement benefit for milk shipping.

6. Caregiver travel assistance

Balancing work and family often requires additional support, especially when it comes to caring for children or elderly family members. LSAs can include caregiver travel benefits, enabling parents to have their supportive caregivers accompany them on work travel. This invaluable assistance ensures peace of mind, allowing them to focus on their professional responsibilities while knowing their loved ones are cared for.

Today’s people-first leaders, like those at Patagonia, and Chief, are forging the way to support working families by crafting personalized benefits to meet the needs of their workforce. Not only are they impacting retention and attrition rates, but they’re also affecting company loyalty.

7. Nanny or childcare expenses

Caregiving remains an essential part of employment infrastructure beyond the infancy months. Flexible childcare options are necessary to accommodate demanding schedules. LSAs can cover expenses related to nannies or childcare services, providing working mothers and fathers with the flexibility they need to excel in their roles. 

Beyond the scope of childcare expenses, self-care, and total well-being are equally important. Providing on-demand fitness options or reimbursements for bodywork and massage can hold high value for your people.

“We know there is a budget crackdown happening. However, how many of those budgets are stagnant or lack adoption. We don’t typically come into a company with a new budgetary line item. We repurpose Total Rewards and well-being budgets or reboot antiquated reimbursement plans. And we do that with Espresa LSA Plus.”

How leading companies are refreshing Total Rewards programs to meet budgetary constraints with LSA

The entire well-being landscape has been altered in a way companies are paying attention to. Old budgets are no longer supporting the new needs or demands of employees.

“Beyond providing personalized perks, companies we work with are looking for ways to increase engagement and impact of programs while offering a more simplified and consistent global employee experience,” described Ryan Ramsey, Espresa Head of Strategic Alliances. “We know there is a budget crackdown happening. However, how many of those budgets are stagnant or lack adoption,” he continued.

“We don’t typically come into a company with a new budgetary line item. We repurpose Total Rewards and well-being budgets or reboot antiquated reimbursement plans. And we do that with Espresa LSA Plus, for example.”

Revolutionizing workplace support with Lifestyle Spending Accounts 

By implementing a Lifestyle Spending Account that caters to the specific needs of working parents, companies are not only fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce but also enabling their female contingency to reach their full potential.

Lifestyle Spending Accounts are a game changer for providing family support, particularly for those who may be a primary caregiver. They not only alleviate the challenges these professionals face but also showcase an organization’s commitment to creating a genuinely supportive and equitable workplace in their mission-driven benefits. 

As we continue to evolve in our understanding of work-life balance, LSAs are at the forefront of shaping the future of work for all. Discover how an LSA with Espresa can help support your employees. Reach out to one of our workplace benefit experts today for a demo!


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