HR Transform 2023: Focus on employee maternal health outcomes

min read

This year at HR Transform, the vibe was decidedly different from previous years. I had the privilege of addressing employers and health plans at the Healthcare Summit to share insights from Delfina’s successful work serving Medicaid populations. What struck me most from our conversations was how much the perspective for employers has shifted in the last 18 months from offering an experience to delivering on outcomes. Employers are seeking solutions for their workforces that will provide measurable benefits to their employees, while delivering net savings within a single fiscal year. They are now significantly less willing to pay per employee per month for an app that sees variable engagement. Independent groups including academic researchers are increasingly providing rigorous metrics for HR leaders to use when evaluating benefits.

Maternal health was a particular topic of interest this year – generally in the top three areas of interest for benefits leaders given its impact on diverse workforces and its cost to self-insured employers. I learned that many leaders are now thinking critically about how to retain key talent and preserve advances made in DEI in the last two years – even while facing hiring freezes, layoffs, and budget cuts. Several employers who have offered fertility benefits over the past decade are interested in comprehensive support for pregnant and postpartum employees now further along their family-building journey. The limitations on reproductive rights in some geographies have added increased urgency to supporting maternal health for employers in those states.

There are several benefits that companies are offering to employees increasingly in 2023, which studies have demonstrated improve the retention of new parents as employees:

  1. Maximizing paid parental leave: Employers providing longer paid leave have a significantly higher probability of retaining those employees (Appelbaum & Milkman 2011). In recent months, some companies took reputational damage in labor markets by cutting benefits for laid-off employees including new parents, whereas others like Spotify are pioneering up to 6 months of fully paid parental leave.
  2. Offering flexible work arrangements: Employers with hybrid return-to-office policies are increasingly exploring flexible work arrangements for parents in the post-pandemic workplace. Surveys during the pandemic demonstrated that remote work is seen differently based on gender. Employers offering the optionality for parents to decide from where they work are now reporting the highest levels of employee satisfaction.
  3. Support breastfeeding: Employers are supporting breastfeeding parents with resources such as access to lactation rooms, breast pumps, and breastfeeding education. These resources help new parents continue to breastfeed after returning to work, supporting infant health and reducing employee stress. For remote-first employers, supporting appropriate breastfeeding-friendly norms in the remote workplace has anecdotally made a positive impact for their staff.
  4. Educating employees on pregnancy benefits: Many employees are surprisingly unaware of their own benefits related to pregnancy and parenting! HR leaders I spoke with at a roundtable shared the importance of education on pregnancy and maternity-related benefits, including eligibility requirements, leave policies, and digital health solutions. This proactive approach empowers employees during a critical and anxiety-provoking life stage.

Following up on discussions from HR Transform, we at Delfina are convening a group of forward-thinking technologists, clinicians, and employers to render independently verifiable metrics on digital health solutions that work for your workforce. If you are interested in joining our group, reach out to us here!

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