Q&A with Care.com CEO: How Better Care Benefits the Workplace

During a Business Leader Forum at Workday Rising, Sheila Marcelo, CEO at Care.com, sat down with Leighanne Levensaler, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Workday, to discuss changes to the workforce and the implications they have on our society.

Driven by social, economic, and political shifts, businesses are changing how they operate to improve growth and productivity. One of the biggest changes happening in the workplace is around the care of people. Enter Care.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for finding and managing family care, with more than 25.2 million members spanning 20 countries. They offer solutions for a variety of care needs including child care, senior care, pet care, and housekeeping, which Workday provides to its employees as a Care@Work client.

In 2014, Care.com selected Workday to support its global business. The company is now live on nearly the full suite of Workday applications, including Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management.

During a Business Leader Forum at Workday Rising, Care.com CEO Sheila Marcelo sat down with Leighanne Levensaler, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Workday, to discuss changes to the workforce and the implications they have on our society. Below are highlights from their conversation.

Why are businesses investing more in supporting their workforces?

Marcelo: There’s a demographic shift happening in the workplace. Millennials are becoming a majority of the workforce, and they have increasing expectations around the benefits they’ll be provided. Our Better Benefits survey found that 60 percent of employees would leave a job for one with better family-care benefits, and that number increases to 83 percent when it comes to Millennials.

Just as important is focusing on the other end of the spectrum, the aging population. We just conducted a study with Harvard Business School for a forthcoming report and found that there’s a negative stigma that exists around caregiving. Employees believe that their employers look down on caregivers, so they’re not using the resources available to them. Business leaders need to start advocating for it because regardless of income, position, power, or success, senior care is a big issue that many employees are facing as their parents are aging.

Levensaler: The shifts that are happening in business—social and demographic, economic and political—on top of the innovations we’re seeing in technology, are influencing the investments that companies are making and the experiences they’re creating for their workforce. Whether in finance, human resources, or IT, business leaders have a unique platform within their organizations to make an impact in a way that advances not only productivity but the human connection.

Why is providing care—helping employees make sure their loved ones are looked after—a business imperative?

Levensaler: Care isn’t just a benefit, it’s a return on investment. To drive growth and productivity in your organization, you need the participation of a diverse workforce. Unfortunately, as a society, we’ve structured work—the roles, hours, and infrastructure—around one gender. So, we see a drop in participation from women during the childbearing and childrearing years. And when they’re ready to re-enter the workplace, it’s can be quite challenging for families.

At the same time, we also have an aging workforce with people who want to stay connected and engaged in a work context. Care is needed across the board. According to government statistics, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to nearly double to 72.1 million by 2030. How will these people engage as workers with our companies? What kind of accommodations are we going to make?

Marcelo: Care and work are codependent. You need great care to work, and you need to work to pay for great care. We invest so much in building up our economy through infrastructure and other necessities, but the investment in providing care, which really allows us to drive job growth, is lacking. It’s impacting our society, and for companies, it’s impacting their workforces and productivity. Millennials are having children earlier, Boomers are dealing with senior care issues, and absenteeism is on the rise. We introduced Care@Work, because to be competitive, you must invest in the humanity side.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and advocate of sustainable capitalism, got it right when he posed the question, “Do you run this for society or not? The real purpose of business has always been to come up with solutions that are relevant to society, to make society better.” If we don’t have a healthy society, how can businesses continue to grow? As leaders, we need to think about the things we can do for our employees and the impact they’ll have on society.

What role does technology play in this?

Marcelo: The focus should be around how we can, as Paul Polman says, build more “resilient societies” to foster business and economic growth. At Care.com, we built a technology platform to connect families with caregivers, but we’re also thinking about what we can do to represent caregivers. In 2012, we bought the largest household payroll company to allow families to easily pay their caregivers, who now have access to Social Security benefits, Medicare benefits, and worker’s compensation. Last year, we launched the first ever peer-to-peer benefits platform, which allows families to contribute to their caregiver’s benefits just as traditional corporate employers do for their employees.

Levensaler: Almost every organization is a technology company now, and no one is immune to the opportunities and challenges presented by digital disruption. We’re all in the business of creating new experiences for our consumers, whoever those consumers might be. If we want to bring more humanity into the discussion then we need to talk about the experience—not the technology. We need to make sure that we’re using automation and machine learning to increase the human connection—not remove or reduce it. Because, at our core, we’re all hardwired for connection.

“By doing good for your company and workforce, you’ll do good for society.” —Leighanne Levensaler, senior vice president of corporate strategy, Workday

How do you align your people strategy with your corporate strategy?

Marcelo: Companies have to develop a technology strategy that goes hand-in-hand with a people strategy. Leaders are so focused on productivity, growth, and running the company that they sometimes lose sight of connecting with people. Challenge yourself to listen to your workforce and customers and then figure out how to touch people’s lives in a real way and at scale.

“Showcase your company’s values and make sure they’re strongly integrated in everything your company does.” —Sheila Marcelo, CEO, Care.com

For example, job sharing provides access to an untapped workforce—one that’s a force multiplier. We launched CareForce, and talented moms—architects, doctors, lawyers—in different states are helping manage the marketplace. We’re also exploring how we can extend that to the aging population.

Levensaler: By doing good for your company and workforce, you’ll do good for society. Use your platform as a company to build awareness around improving care. There are a lot of ways to advocate for it. We have an innovation council at Workday that gets together to discuss future practices and the nature of work. We meet with companies from different industries to learn about how they’re innovating their practices and then take those learnings back to our product development team.

How should companies think about their position in the wider world?

Marcelo: The way I think about it is, “What are we doing from an external viewpoint?” Research has shown that millennials think it’s important for companies to be vocal about what they stand for. A survey from Glassdoor found that 75 percent of U.S. workers between the ages of 18 and 34 expect their employer to take a stand on important issues affecting the country and their constitutional rights. Using the power of your business platform in the private sector is part of corporate social responsibility. Showcase your company’s values and make sure they’re strongly integrated in everything your company does—internally and externally.

Levensaler: On top of that, providing your employees with the care they need and showing that your company invests in improving the human connection attracts new talent. When you can demonstrate how your product or service impacts people’s lives, it excites candidates and shows them the human side of it.

Whatever your mission is, explain what you’re doing in the community, through your platform, and through your organization to attract, engage, and retain talent. Some of the most compelling reasons to join your company will be through people’s personal journeys and stories. If you can connect with candidates at a human level, you will prompt interest.

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