Is Your Benefits Package Keeping Up with the Changing Face of Family? 

Jul 21, 2023

The transformation of the American family has undergone profound changes in the past decade, as the paradigm of the traditional married-with-children model has been replaced by an increasingly diverse array of arrangements. From intergenerational households and same-sex couples to unmarried couples, blended families, multi-ethnic families, and childless families1, the definition of family has become significantly more diverse. The visible definition of family is no longer homogenous2.

The majority of your workforce has pets and considers them as part of their family.

The rapid growth of pet ownership and the deepening bond between pets and their owners have expanded the definition of family within the modern American context to include pets as celebrated members of the family. 70% of US households have a pet, while only 35% of the workforce have children under 18.  Research from Morgan Stanley indicates that 65% of 18- to 34-year-olds plan to acquire or add a pet in the next five years, helping drive what’s expected to be a 14% increase in pet ownership by 20303

Not only are the majority of households and the workforce now composed of pet owners, but 95% of these households consider their pets to be integral family members4, highlighting the profound emotional connection between pets and their owners. Recent research further supports this bond, with 87% of pet owners reporting improved emotional well-being since becoming pet parents5

Pet owners show unwavering devotion to furry family members

The ways in which pets interact with pet parents on a daily basis demonstrate the pivotal roles they hold and solidify their position as essential family members. According to The New York Times, 70% of pet owners say they sometimes sleep with their pets, 65% buy Christmas gifts for their pets, 23% cook special meals for their pets, and 40% of married women with pets claim to receive more emotional support from their pets than from their spouses6. Perhaps even more telling, recent reports indicate that pet owners remain committed to spending on their pets, even in the face of inflation. They are willing to go the extra mile, often sacrificing their own comforts to ensure that their pets enjoy the same quality of life7.  

What does this all mean for employers?

What does this all mean for employers? The widespread nature of pet ownership and the continuous growth in pet adoption necessitate that benefit teams re-evaluate how they meet the needs of their people. 

Acknowledging and addressing the unique requirements of pet parents in the workplace now falls under the broader banner of inclusion and family benefits. Companies should consider aligning their benefits portfolio with what employees value and strive to create a thriving workplace culture that recognizes the value of pets as essential family members.  

Watch our on-demand webinar Bringing Pets into the Family of Benefits, to learn how you can start making meaningful changes to your benefits to support and celebrate pet families.