Supporting New Parents and Reducing Employee Turnover after Parental Leave

Welcoming a new child into the world is an exciting and often exhausting experience for new parents. Schedules and routines are suddenly thrown off balance or completely out the window, and while still trying to navigate this new normal, the time eventually comes to return to work. Besides the lack of sleep, there are doctor appointments, childcare concerns and schedules, regular pumping breaks for breastfeeding mothers, and usual at-home responsibilities that can put more of a burden on the minds of new parents. Unfortunately, many companies expect employees to return to their prior schedule or tasks no matter how time-consuming, but relative flexibility is needed to help retain those returning from parental leave.

Importance of Paid Parental Leave

Leave from work for both the mother and father are important, both in terms of bonding with the new baby as well as helping the child grow and develop. Legally, companies employing over 50 people are obligated to provide twelve weeks of unpaid leave to new mothers and fathers, and the law protects them from losing their job, but for most, having to forego an entire income is extremely difficult if not impossible, resulting in many returning to work before they are completely ready.

Providing paid parental leave has been shown to benefit both babies and parents. For babies, studies have shown a lower infant mortality rate, an increase in child vaccination rates, a higher rate and longer duration of breastfeeding, and more. Mothers experience lower rates of depression, including postpartum depression, and paid leave helps fathers become more comfortable taking an active role in raising their children.

Paid leave also benefits the companies themselves. Providing women with paid maternity leave makes them 93% more likely to return and remain with the company for at least a year after birth. For those that tend to attract a younger demographic, a paid leave policy helps to attract more talent as it shows the company is willing to grow with that employee throughout their life changes. Gaining and retaining great employees is important, and providing them with something that shows the company’s loyalty will only have them returning the favor.

How Companies can Support Returning Parents

Showing initial support for parents with paid parental leave is important, but that support should not end once they return to work. In an ideal world, everything would return back to normal, but with all of the new responsibilities piled on, some things may no longer be acceptable, like long hours, constant on-call availability, or frequent travel. Of course, should any of this be required for their particular position, a comparable position of equal pay should be discussed to ensure they are happy and comfortable with their return.

Open communication is essential so new parents feel they can express their new needs and can gain an understanding of what is still expected of them from the company. Flexibility is needed in order for him or her to meet new obligations and it must be done with sincerity. Whatever is agreed upon – whether it is what time the employee will be leaving each day or creating a work-from-home policy if they need to leave early to pick up a sick child – must be something that all parties are comfortable with and cannot result in the employee being treated disrespectfully.

Helping parents ease back into the workforce can also be a great way to show support. As anyone who’s had even a small amount of time away from work can attest, trying to return to 100% after being away completely can sometimes be quite stressful. Some businesses are helping this transition with a reduced work schedule for a set number of weeks after parental leave while still providing full pay. Easing back into tasks helps keep stress levels lower both at work and at home, especially while trying to figure out a new daily routine.

Is Your Company Doing Enough?

Many large companies may already have a paid leave policy in place, but when was the last time it has been evaluated or updated? Is your company flexible enough to allow employees the ability to attend to new roles and responsibilities outside of work? Times change and parental responsibilities are evolving, leading more companies to provide longer time with full pay, paternity leave for new fathers, parental leave for adoptive parents, and even paid leave for those caring for an ill family member. Some policies may look great in theory, but when utilized, may leave much to be desired.

If you’ve been noticing an increase in new parents leaving the company soon after the birth of a child, it’s possible your policies could be to blame. Receiving open and honest feedback from both current and exiting employees will help shed light on how well leave policies and flexibility are working – or how they aren’t. Our ExitRight® Employee Exit Interview provides comprehensive feedback with in-depth analytics to give your company insight that will help identify problem areas quickly. For current employees, utilize our SurveyRight Employee Engagement Survey to maintain or improve your company’s overall work culture, and employees will feel comfortable with being honest since all information is kept anonymous.

For more information or to schedule a demo of our survey products, contact us today.