More employers are trying to hang on to their working parents by offering them help with the one thing they’re missing the most – sleep.
JP Morgan, Snap, Under Armour, and Activision Blizzard are among the 70 companies to have provided the SNOO Smart Sleeper – a responsive bassinet from baby sleep solutions company Happiest Baby – to their employees for a six-month rental period. The sleep cot is said to add one to three hours of sleep per night for babies, and by extension their parents, and has become a hot new benefit for employees at the companies.
Employees that have used the cot, have said it’s particularly useful when they need to jump on video calls throughout their work days, and the cot’s gentle swaying motion can help soothe newborns to sleep.
Milt Ezzard, vp of global benefits at Activision Blizzard, a video game company, said that “employees are crazy about it” and that “it’s been an amazing game changer” in supporting working parents at the company.
The cost of the benefit for an employer is $4 a day – one of the cheapest benefits offers, according to Happiest Baby. “A lot of companies have struggled, especially throughout Covid, with retaining their working parents,” said Lewis Krell, head of strategic partnerships at Happiest Baby who oversees the corporate rental program. “One of the biggest forcing functions of people leaving the workforce is having babies. It’s this feeling of ‘I can’t do it all’ and a big part of that is exhaustion.”
Krell stressed that sleep deprivation leads to billions in employer costs every year, which can trigger serious problems like postpartum depression, accidents, infant death and more. A good night’s sleep, however, can lead to higher productivity and retention, reduced errors and absenteeism and lower healthcare costs.
Krell said that an employee who works at a company that provides the bassinet as a benefit, ran a test to see how much more money the average working parent on his team costs their employer, in coffee as a result of sleep deprivation. This engineer had already benefitted from the baby cot work perk at a previous company for his first child. But when he moved to another company without the benefit, and had a second child, he was motivated to make the case to HR. His experiment found that the parents on his team who had just returned from parental leave were drinking $16 a day worth of coffee compared to non-parents’ $4 worth of coffee a day. He won his case with HR, and the company incorporated the bassinet as a work perk, according to Krell.
“It’s become a really big win for our employer groups who get to do something that really materially and tangibly affects their employees and also brings benefits into the home,” said Krell. “Companies are always looking for ways to extend those benefits into the home.”
Another unique benefit for working parents is offering a night-time nanny. Auctionomics, a company specializing in high-stakes auctions provides its new working parents with an in-home night time nanny to assist parents with newborns for two weeks.
“I went through it, and it’s so hard in the beginning,” said Dr. Silvia Console Battilana, CEO of Auctionomics.
Console Battilana said there is a clear connection between offering this benefit, and employee retention. “Burnout is something we know costs a lot,” said Console Battilana. “Companies don’t realize how much. But our employees appreciate this and it signals we care. We end up getting a higher work output and have a great retention rate. Everyone’s happy.”
Sleep deprivation for working parents isn’t the only area companies are stepping up more. Many are now offering inclusive benefits for parents working remotely, such as milk-freezing and delivery services for working moms.
Home service platform Taskrabbit began offering more benefits for working parents after noticing a 5% increase in this cohort joining its workforce. The company decided to incorporate remote-first benefits into its travel and expense policy, to include milk freezing and delivery services for working moms. Women make up 51% of their workforce.
The milk freezing and delivery is possible through a partnership with Milk Stork, a breast milk shipping company. Employees have full access to choose the plan that works best for them, and then Taskrabbit covers it for the length of time they are traveling.
“Generally the feedback has been that they feel Taskrabbit is thoughtful about working and traveling parents and they feel more secure and less anxious knowing that they don’t have to worry about traveling with milk or ensuring their child has what they need,” said Jessica Davila, Taskrabbit’s vp of people.
Milk Stork works with over 850 employers, including Pinterest, Salesforce, PayPal and Unilever, to offer those same benefits and more. They also offer free virtual lactation consulting for employees, breast milk nutritional testing, access to a free, personal breast pump through your insurance, and breast milk shipping for employee relocation.