Many companies are beginning to expand their options for parental leave. Change.org last year announced it would offer 18 weeks of paid leave, and in June 2015, Virgin CEO Richard Branson announced his company would offer a full year of paid leave for any employee who'd been with the company for at least four years.
It's important to shift thinking and terminology, from maternity leave and toward parental leave. "Both parents want and need time to bond with their children, so this is not just about working moms. The fathers are equally as important. Make sure all working parents know exactly what kinds of family-friendly benefits there are at your firm, and make sure they are aware of leave policies and other perks that can help them," Levin says.
Create affinity groups
Another simple way to support working parents that is gaining traction is through the creation of support and/or affinity groups. "We are seeing informal, casual affinity groups working really well in the business world. For instance, a group for new moms to help them integrate back into the workplace, or a group for working dads to connect with each other," Levin says. It can be a great way for employees to share information about perks and benefits, and to connect more closely with others at their company who are facing the same challenges.
Offer on-site perks
One of the major challenges faced by working parents is time, says Levin. Between work, household responsibilities and the demands of everyday life, it can seem impossible to get it all done. "A great perk that's often overlooked is a way to outsource errands. On-site dry-cleaning, for example. Help with grocery delivery, laundry service, car services -- all of these are necessities for working professionals, but it's tough to get them done during work hours," Levin says. Many companies that offer these services will often do so at a discount for corporate clients.
"A client of ours realized that while working parents were great about keeping up with medical appointments and checkups for their kids, they weren't doing the same for themselves. So they contracted with a company that offers a mobile medical clinic that will come right to the office," Levin says.
Set an example for all parents
Of course, these benefits and perks aren't any good if your workforce doesn't use them. In many cases, there are societal pressures and norms that prevent working fathers from taking advantage of available leave and other benefits. "We've talked to many working dads who just aren't taking advantage of paid leave opportunities; when we asked why, we found many thought they 'couldn't afford it.' They felt the perception at their workplace would be negative -- that they'd have to work even harder when they returned, their coworkers would consider them lazy and that they might lose their jobs," Levin says.
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