America is one of the only countries in the world without a federally mandated paid parental leave policy. This leaves plenty of room for you to customize and implement a policy that speaks to your organizational culture and employees’ needs. A ton of evidence proves that doing so is not just the moral thing to do but it actually saves dollars and helps your organization attract and retain a talented, diverse and amazing workforce!
Many organizations have already stepped up including the federal government who just passed a 12 week paid family leave policy for federal employees. So how can you stand out and showcase a winning parental leave policy? Here are some tips for implementing a pretty boss-ome policy.
Length of Leave Matters
First things first, the length of leave matters! Many health benefits of parental leave are only realized when a parent has at least 12 weeks leave as it gives parents time to bond with their newest family member, reduces the risk of postnatal depression and increases the likelihood of breastfeeding. Fun fact, each employee that is supported to breastfeed, with initiatives like paid leave, ERGs, and a private space conducive to breast pumping, saves your organization $2000 in health care costs! Your competition is already reaping these rewards, as 80% of organizations that have standout family-friendly benefits provide at least 12 weeks paid parental leave. Ultimately, a longer leave policy allows new parents to return to work less exhausted and with a more solid game plan in place at home, equipping them to rock working parenthood.
Offer a Wage (or even a partial) Replacement
Many organizations share that a paid leave policy is unaffordable. We get it, but do you know what else is expensive? Hiring and training top talent. It cost at least 33% of an employee’s salary to find their replacement if you are looking for management-level talent take that up a notch to 2x their annual salary! The time, money, and energy that you spend to rehire exceeds the cost of a paid leave benefit. Still, thinking a paid leave policy may be difficult financially? No worries, consider offering partial pay or a stair-stepped approach back to work. Offering a wage replacement, even if it is a partial replacement, reduces financial stress for growing families and allows moms and dads to have time at home to bond with their new human. Plus, your employees will be forever grateful, breeding a team of loyal and productive worker bees.
Families are diverse, they can be made up of moms, dads, biological, fostered, and adopted children. Your parental leave policy should recognize this and be inclusive regardless of the parent’s sex or how a child is brought into their new home. What’s in it for you? A lot. First, dads want to be a part of their children’s life and rank family-friendly policies with essential benefits, like health coverage when choosing an employee. Additionally, extending parental leave to both parents eliminates the bias that women are the caregivers and increases her attachment to your workforce which positively impacts gender parity in your workplace!
A robust paid parental leave policy may simply be unattainable for some organizations. If this is you, we challenge you to step outside the box, put on some creative onesies, and consider other innovative ways you can support your team. Try an Infants at work policy or consider flexible work schedules…do you have some other great ideas? Send them our way, we would love to learn about them!
Walk the Talk
I have a little secret for you…your parental leave policy will only deliver rewards if you walk the talk baby! Your employees must feel confident using the benefit. This means managers and leaders must encourage and role model the policy’s use. Educate and support managers to successfully manage a parental leave life-cycle. Remember they will need to tread lightly there are a lot of considerations at play as well as your organization’s policy. Most importantly don’t punish employees for taking leave or assume they don’t have a desire to excel and grow in their work role. Parents, especially new parents, are awesome motivated employees who will soon have a whole new skill set to bring to the workplace!
Shout it From the Rooftops
Fun fact, less than 1/3rd of Californian workers knew that the state had a paid family leave policy 3 years after it was enacted! What you are doing for your employees is amazing – shout it from the rooftops, have a parental leave policy shower, make a policy adoption announcement! Whatever you do make sure all your employees are aware of the policy, build it into employee on-boarding, benefit announcements, and management training.
Stepping into working parenthood is an amazing, challenging, fear-inducing, incredible time in an employee’s life. How you support this transition will forever shape the way your employees feel about the organization. Start by engaging with your employees to listen and learn from them what their needs are to rock parenthood whilst having a stellar career. Then implement a policy that speaks to their needs and re-read this article to make sure you have covered all your bases.