HR trends

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October 7, 2022

Extending learning and development opportunities to employees’ family members supports individual, corporate, and community health

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Amy Lynn Fletcher

Amy Lynn Fletcher

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Last update




January 15, 2024

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Did you know that you can leverage learning and development as a way to positively impact your employees’ families and communities? Providing learning and development content and tools outside the four walls of your organization is a powerful and demonstrable way to improve ESG scores in the area of community impact.

Learning and development (L&D) is no longer simply about in-house training and productivity gains but also requires a commitment to continuous learning and employability. Extending L&D options to employees’ family members is an innovative way to build a culture of equitable learning and support meaningful advances in diversity & inclusion in both the workplace and the community.

The workplace is changing at a rapid pace not seen since the late 19th century. The Covid-19 pandemic reset concepts such as work-life balance and career development, while hybrid and remote work options went from niche to normal. Rapid advances in artificial intelligence and automation are also accelerating a large-scale global transition to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Learning and development needs to be nimble and creative in adapting to these demographic, economic, technological, and cultural changes.

For example, workers today are not only concerned about skills development within a particular occupation, but about broader employability across a personalized career path. They want opportunities for self-directed learning as well as content that is relevant not only to the specific job but to broader goals such as wellness and personal development. Research from McKinsey & Company confirms that employees prioritize opportunities for L&D when evaluating job offers, while lack of L&D opportunities is a major reason that employees will decide to leave a company.

One innovative approach to attracting, keeping, and nurturing talent in this high-expectation environment is to extend on-site and remote learning opportunities to employees’ family members. Deloitte finds that both Gen-Z and millennials, in particular, cite good work-life balance and the availability of learning opportunities as the top two reasons for choosing to work at a particular company. Providing L&D options to family members integrates and enhances both of these outcomes.

Thinking of L&D as a key benefit not only for the employee but for dependents also makes good economic sense. In 2021, a Cengage survey found that approximately 20 percent of recent college and university graduates did not believe that their education had prepared them for their first job. Companies must assume a much more visible role in ensuring that employees are able to do the jobs for which they are hired and are able to adjust to a rapidly changing workplace. Supplying age-appropriate and self-directed learning options to dependents shows the value of lifelong learning and encourages confidence and adaptability from an early age.

Few companies are currently offering L&D benefits to family members, which creates an opportunity for forward-thinking administrators. Those companies that have embedded L&D in their benefits package seem to be realizing significant gains. In 2021, for example, Waste Management launched the Your Tomorrow program, which provides expansive opportunities for learning both within and outside the organization and is available from the front-line to the C-suite. According to Tamia Oates-Forney, Chief People Officer, the program “supports the reskilling and retention of existing talent, while also helping to attract new talent, to equip the business with a skilled workforce for the future and further position WM as an employer of choice.”  Today with the new tools to create content in a cost effective way, providing eLearning content is available to all companies regardless of their size.

Finally, enlarging L&D to include dependents demonstrates an active commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Employees today, particularly Gen-Z, expect that companies should take part in and contribute to the broader community, not only economically, but in terms of social and environmental sustainability. Given the wide variation in access to quality schools and the rapid pace of technological change, companies can make a direct contribution to individual and community health by expanding access to educational resources.

Edflex Family is a platform that makes curated learning content accessible to employees’ families at no added cost. Curated learning content can be adapted to different age levels and learning styles, easing the burden on parents and realizing long-term gains in terms of an engaged and adaptable workforce. As the workplace continues to change rapidly, the development of new benefit options and innovative L&D content is crucial to helping the bottom line and creating motivated employees, healthy communities, and the talent of the future.

Amy Lynn Fletcher

Amy Lynn Fletcher


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