Work/life programs continue to grow

There has been a steady growth in the number of employers offering work/life programs in the last five years, according to a recent survey by Lincolnshire, IL-based management consulting firm, Hewitt Associates LLC. The survey, "Work and Family Benefits Provided By Major U.S. Employers in 1996," was based on the practices of 1,050 employers and compares responses with those of 1,006 employers in 1991.

Work/life programs, says the study, "support both business needs and employer needs. By offering programs, policies, and resources that acknowledge employees’ lives outside of work, employees can be more focused and productive while at work."

Here are some of the key findings of the survey:

• 86% of employers offer some kind of child care assistance to their employees, up from 66% in 1991. Dependent care spending accounts and resource and referral services are the two most prevalent programs used.

• Elder care programs are offered by nearly one-third of the employers, an increase of 17% over 1991. The most common approach is a resource and referral program.

• Flexible scheduling arrangements are now offered by 68% of employers, up from 53% in 1991. The most common arrangements offered are flextime (72%) and part-time employment (64%).

• Adoption benefits are offered by 23% of employers, up 12% from 1991. While reimbursement levels vary, $2,000 per adoption is most common.

• EAPs are offered by 84% of employers, up 9% from 1991, and are most commonly provided through a contract with an outside provider.