Skip to content
Alight Completes Sale of Payroll and Professional Services Business. Learn more here

Inclusive employee benefits for families: One size fits no one


How do employers meet the needs of 21st century employees and their families?

Benefits are one of the keys to attracting and retaining employees. However, even the most generous benefits package won’t help achieve that goal if no one is using it. In large part, that’s because most benefits strategies were designed to support an employee and a family structure that is far less prevalent than it used to be. The nuclear family that long represented the American way of life is rapidly becoming the minority. Employers must have inclusive employee benefits to meet the needs of the 21st-century family.

In an era where diversity and inclusivity are at the forefront of workplace discussions, it's imperative for employers to tailor their benefits to reflect the varied compositions of modern families.

Here are some key considerations to make benefits truly inclusive:

  • Healthcare Coverage for Domestic Partners: Traditional healthcare plans often catered to married couples and their dependents, leaving out unmarried couples and LGBTQ+ households. To address this gap, employers can offer healthcare plans that allow coverage for domestic partners, ensuring that all families, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation, have access to essential healthcare services.

  • Support for Gender-Affirming Care: Gender diversity is a reality in today's workforce, and it's important for employers to provide comprehensive healthcare coverage that supports transgender and nonbinary employees. This includes finding healthcare providers that offer gender-affirming care, and providing access to transition-related treatments and therapies.

  • Fertility Treatments Coverage: Infertility affects many couples, and access to fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be a game-changer for those struggling to conceive. By including coverage for fertility treatments in their benefits packages, employers can support employees on their journey to parenthood.

  • Bilingual Coverage Options: Language should not be a barrier to accessing healthcare. Employers can enhance inclusivity by offering bilingual coverage options, such as telehealth visits conducted in languages other than English. By providing materials and support in multiple languages, employers can ensure that all employees feel valued and understood.

  • Nationwide Healthcare Networks: With the rise of remote work, employees are no longer confined to a single geographic location. Employers can cater to their diverse workforce by opting for healthcare plans with nationwide coverage, ensuring that all employees, regardless of their location, can access quality care.

  • Adoption Support: Adoption is another pathway to building a family, and employers can demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity by offering adoption support benefits. This may include financial assistance, paid leave, or resources to navigate the adoption process.

  • Parental Leave for All: Parental leave policies should be inclusive of all types of families, whether they're welcoming a new biological child, adopted child, or foster child. 

  • Coverage for extended family New types of family structures are leading employers to offer a more broader and inclusive range of employee benefits. As a result, people increasingly request health coverage, along with healthcare navigation, clinical guidance, and financial advisory services for members of their extended family.


 Today, 17.8% of U.S. households are traditional nuclear families

It’s easy to see how today’s workforce requires different benefits than previous generations. Yet many employers have failed to evolve to meet modern-day needs. Granted, there are many barriers – including higher costs and legal issues in some jurisdictions – to expanding access to healthcare plans in this manner.

However, organizations should recognize the misalignment between some of their offerings and workers’ needs and seek ways to make their benefits more inclusive and flexible where possible.

Your employees' appreciation will translate into greater retention, productivity, engagement, and an overall enhanced employee experience.

Related reads

10 unique traits of retirement benefits in the insurance industry

A number of industries stand out for their unique approach to employee benefits, including the insurance industry.

Benefits and rewards – why employees want more

The workforce is changing. It is said that in 2020, 50% of our colleagues would be millennials (aged 23-38). This cohort are pushing for change. Not because they’re rule breakers, but because cash is no longer king when it comes to salary. Today, we want more than money in return for our labors.

Five challenges HR departments face with employee benefits

Understand how the benefits enrollment process affects HR managers, and what problems they may be facing to become more effective in their operations.