Mother's Day is right around the corner, but as all good children know, Mother's Day isn't celebrated just one day a year. Our moms do a lot for us, which is why it's important to check in on your company's parental policies and see if they're up to snuff.
Nearly one-third of working women will become pregnant at some point in their career. Unlike in other countries, American companies aren't required to give paid time off for mothers or fathers. Because of this, one out of four US mothers return to work after only taking 10 days of parental leave, according to the PEW Research Center.
Mothers can suffer from separation anxiety after birth, struggle with the lack of involvement they have with their child, and face tough financial decisions when it comes to daycare and babysitters. The workforce often sees pregnant women as a liability to their labor and finances, but you don't want to be that type of company.
Let's take a look at what you can do to better your paternity and maternity policies.
The biggest and most basic step: Offer parental leave to both female and male employees. Microsoft offers five months paid parental leave for first-time moms and three months for fathers, adopting parents, and foster parents. But they didn't stop there. In 2018, the company updated its policy to extend to contractors and partners — Microsoft won't do business with companies that don't offer at least twelve weeks paid parental leave.
This move shows the company not only practices what it preaches, but it's also working to positively influence other businesses and remind them that times are changing.
Provide part-time schedules for returning mothers. Deloitte has a "Reconnect Program" to help coach parents back into the swing of things. This program includes flexible work schedules to help new mothers make their own path to full-time work after giving birth. It's important to be considerate of returning parents' schedules. The more you give, the more they're likely to work harder and dive into their previous responsibilities.
Deloitte also provides financial aid for childcare once you make the commitment to full-time work. The point that this company is making by thinking beyond the parental leave is that they're there for their employees every step of the way. Respect and trust go both ways in any relationship, and building a comfortable atmosphere for your employees' families will ultimately save you much more than you thought at the end of the day.
Social media and camera company Snap offers a library of medical professionals to new parents in the office via online chats pertaining to maternity, infertility, and egg freezing. You can talk to women's health professionals, nurse practitioners, and more all over the web to accommodate a new schedule.
Your company may not be the same size as Deloitte, but that doesn't mean you should put parental leave policies in a pile for later. One of the most cost-effective ways to do so is to allow flexible work schedules. Not every parent has the same situation as the next. Some couples can afford full-time or part-time assistance to give them more time in the office, while other couples have both parents working full-time jobs with little to no support at home. Maybe it's just one parent!
When you create an open-minded environment for working parents that's upheld by everyone from the CEO to the receptionist, you have an impact on your employees' quality of life. The value you get from that isn't something to be overlooked.
Don't fall into these outdated structures. When men and women feel supported as parents and human beings, they'll be more likely to appreciate you as an employer, strengthening your reputation and increasing your retention.