Making adjustments for new parents can be a key to employee retention
Becoming a parent is a major milestone for many people. However, in today's career-focused society, it isn't always the easiest thing to do. Parents are expected to put their career first, which makes it hard to establish a healthy work/life balance. Child care is also exorbitantly expensive, which leads many parents to leave behind a career that they love in favor of staying home and caring for their children.
On the business end, companies who invest in their employees have an easier time keeping their best workers around. Increasingly, paid parental leave and flexibility is a factor for young professionals looking for a company that will invest in them and their family goals. For young women especially, a flexible work policy is the difference between leaving work entirely and being able to get back on board.
With this need to attract and retain talent, what can companies do to help their employees who also happen to be parents?
Expand the Definition of "Parent"
Only 15 percent of U.S. workers received paid leave in 2017, and it’s fair to guess that most parental benefits end at the mother of a new child. She's eligible for maternity leave, and companies will be more likely to offer flexibility to meet her needs. New policies are great steps forward in the fight for improved new parent benefits and work/life balance.
But parents aren't just limited to new moms.
At a minimum, parenting is an 18-year commitment that's undertaken by mom and dad, or mom and mom, or dad and dad, or any combination thereof. The first step that companies can take is to rethink the definition of a "parent" when it comes to benefits. A new dad is just as tired as a mom after a baby comes home, but paternal leave is a rarer benefit. An adoptive parent needs time to adjust to having a new little one in their home too.
Expanding the definition of "parent" to include everyone who might need some time to adjust after bringing home a new child — either by birth, adoption, or fosterage — is a good step in the right direction.
Give Extended and Paid Leave
The United States might be the leader when it comes to many things, but this country ranks last for maternity leave. New mothers can receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave after the birth of a child — but only if they qualify, and only if the company that they work for has more than 50 employees.
Some individual companies have started offering extended paid leave for new moms and dads, but these companies are the exception rather than the rule. Offering extended leave — and more importantly, paid leave — for new parents is another way to support them.
This step could also extend to existing parents — those who don't have new babies at home. With kids, things come up. There are sports games to drive to and sick days when the little ones can't go to school or daycare. More flexible leave rules for these last-minute emergencies or changes can help parents foster a healthy work/life balance and keep them from seeking out other employment at a more family-friendly company.
Offer On-Site Child Care
Child care is costly in most areas of the country. Depending on the state, parents can expect to pay anywhere from $8,000 to $36,000 a year just on child care. For many parents, this extra expenditure isn't an option, so they leave their jobs and become a single-income family to stay home and care for the children. Companies can retain talented employees and become more family-friendly by offering on-site child care.
This benefit isn't always an option for smaller companies, but for large companies that have the funds, it can be an excellent way to support employees if they choose to become parents. These companies are often in greater competition to retain top talent, and on-site childcare adds unmatched convenience and peace of mind for young families.
Large companies interested in this investment can find a few creative ways to help finance the real estate, personnel, and equipment needed to launch on-site childcare. Partnering with a child care services provider can help businesses avoid the responsibilities of operations and compliance. Businesses can also finance these upfront costs by considering the benefits of leasing necessary equipment, fundraising, or working with neighboring businesses to pool resources for such an investment.
Take the impressive efforts of Northwestern Memorial Care in Chicago, which operates with a capacity for 320 children, employs specialized teachers, and features two expansive playgrounds. Or Clif Bar & Company, which offers affordable daycare in the expensive Bay Area and has a 5 percent employee turnover rate. These examples, though many may consider them dramatic, indicate the overall benefits of providing childcare services for new parents.
Provide Telecommuting Options
Plenty of parents want to work but might not be able to because of their child's school schedule. It's hard for someone to maintain even a part-time job when the only hours they're available are between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. because of school.
To make up for this situation and provide employment opportunities, many companies are offering telecommuting options and allowing their employees to work from home. This setup can be established part-time or full-time and gives parents the opportunity to work even when they can't make the drive to the office. Of course, there are some industries where telecommuting isn't an option. But for the jobs that can be done from home, offering remote work can help companies retain their talent pool even if employees can't come into the office.
How To Invest in New Parents
Becoming more family-friendly doesn't mean companies need to change everything from the ground up. Simply redefining "parent" and offering leave and benefits for both new and existing parents can be enough to encourage employees to stay with a company and return to their positions after a new baby is born.
In competitive industries, retaining a talented crew is difficult enough without making it even harder by refusing to change with the time. Becoming a parent and building a career can happen simultaneously if more companies are willing to step up and make a change.
Written by: Holly Welles, BOSS Contributor
Holly Welles is a real estate writer who covers the latest market trends in everything from residential to commercial spaces. She is the editor behind her own blog, The Estate Update, and curates more advice on Twitter.