The US ranks last of all developed countries in requiring paid family leave, leaving 100 million-plus employees without that benefit, resulting in 25% of new mothers returning to work 10 days after having a child. An advocacy group reports that 60 of the nation’s companies having the most employees either do not have or would not disclose their parental leave policy. In 2016, the trend continued for individual cities and states, and privately and publicly held companies (Etsy, EY [formerly Ernst & Young], Coca-Cola Company, American Express, Ikea, BASF) leading the way in expanding mandated parental leave. Research continues to find that the expense of such policies is more than offset by increasing the ability to attract and keep talent, reducing the costs of turnover, and increasing diversity.
SHRM concluded that HR professionals need to continue to focus on cultural barriers that may influence participation rates. In particular, they need to work with managers and leaders to model flexibility in their own approaches to work, and to demonstrate that those who do make use of flexible work are not penalized when it comes to promotions and career opportunities.
Only 4 industry sectors achieve double-digits in flex work participation: manufacturing (27%); professional, scientific and technical services (14%); healthcare and social assistance (14%); and finance and insurance (12%).
Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia, writes in LinkedIn about the business case for supporting working families in a social environment in which up to 35% of working women in the US who give birth never return to their jobs. Marcario estimates that her company recovers 91% of its costs for family support programs.
Qualified child care programs get a federal annual tax credit of $150,000 and the company can deduct 35% of unrecovered costs from corporate taxes.
In the past 5 years, Patagonia has had all working mothers return to work after family leave, saving the company turnover costs ranging from 35% of salary for a non-managerial employee to 125% for a manager and a “couple year’s pay” for a director or VP.
High quality on-site child care results in increased employee engagement and, because of the better financial performance, the high worker engagements recoups 11% of the company’s family support costs.
86% of US employees reported overall satisfaction with their current job in 2014, the highest level of satisfaction in the last 10 years. Two of the top contributors were respectful treatment of everyone at all levels, and trust between employees and senior management.
96% of American men return to work within 2 weeks of a baby’s birth. Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego, studied leave policies in Norway where 70% of fathers take paternity leave. The secret was seeing a dad come back to his job without problems. Setting the example is important. The number of California dads taking a break from work to spend time with a new child is beginning to pick up. 17% of men in California took leave in 2004, the first year it was offered; 26% did 5 years later.
Even though more companies offer parental leave, few employees take full advantage of it. The LeaveLogic software platform helps negotiate leave policies; TalkingTalent coaches employees taking maternity leave; Emissaries connects companies having robust paternity leave with vetted freelancers to fill the gap and The Center for Parental Leave Leadership assesses and trains managers.
Workplace trends for 2016: remote and on-demand specialized workers, inspirational and collaborative leaders, better design of internal tools and systems, video taking over for PowerPoint, and making work meaningful.