By: Debi Yadegari
As the economy moves into the post-pandemic phase, employees hold the upper hand and working parents are asking some tough questions about the benefits their companies are willing to provide.
When faced with the inevitable “return to office,” many working parents are opting to not return to their previous employment, and are leaving in droves to search for opportunities that allow them to satisfy their personal and professional needs. This often includes the opportunity to hold tight to “work from home” optionality.
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This shift in employee expectations and demands is expected to cost employers millions of dollars in employee replacement costs: onboarding, training, and loss of production due to losing employees with experience and
As working parents confront the decision of whether to stay or go, it is important they use this time as an opportunity to hone their personal list of priorities and analyze whether their needs can be met at their current place of employment or if it is necessary to seek a new professional home. But they should also keep in mind that the grass will always look greener, and it is sometimes easier to fix what you have versus rolling the dice with the unknown.
And with employers knowing they may be on the hook for finding new talent, now is the time to engage managers in conversations about making the return back a jump forward and win-win for everyone.
Working parents should consider these seven culture clues to determine whether they should stick with what they’ve got (coupled with a few tweaks via constructive dialogue) or bolt.
- A culture of flexibility: While hybrid work and the ability to maintain work from home is all the rage and the stuff of headlines right now, the more important thing to look for is a culture of flexibility. Work from home is great, but not if your boss pings you every hour to make sure you’re spending “time in the seat.” It is much more important to source opportunities that provide a culture of flexibility and will allow a working parent to take time off for a school event, kid’s birthday, or other hefty and important matters.
- A culture of advancement: Too many working parents experience day-to-day bias, get pigeonholed into jobs with little growth, and are passed over for promotions and other opportunities. Working moms especially have a difficult time. Ensure your employer of choice provides opportunities for mentorships, prioritizes diversity at the helm and in the boardroom, and has great reviews on Glassdoor and other job search channels.
- The basics: Paid family leave, or at least a respect for time off. While the coolest startups may not be able to offer paid leave (just yet), make sure the company has a culture of support and understanding around family leave and time off to care for a new baby.
- Respect for the lactating mom: Whether you’re a breastfeeding parent or not, the lay of the land when it comes to respect for breastfeeding employees speaks volumes about the company’s goals and priorities. Ask about the company’s available lactation rooms (do they even have any?), access to hospital-grade breast pumps, and whether or not they offer breastmilk shipping for when breastfeeding parents travel.
- The bonus: Learn if there are “bonus” type benefits, like one-on-one support that connects working parents with career coaches, parenting experts and well-being specialists.
- Ultra childcare: Is there an onsite daycare center? Is there a partnership with local daycare providers? Do company perks include a childcare stipend? None of that? OK, go back to flexibility. If you need to take the day off because your nanny is sick, is there any understanding from your employer? What is the PTO policy? Can you use sick days when your children get ill?
- The boss: Do they get it? During the interview, did you see pictures of children on your interviewer’s desk or office walls? Is there a level of understanding concerning the needs of working parents? What does the company do to encourage empathy and understanding for working parents? At a minimum, managers and corporate leadership should undergo annual sensitivity training.
In the world of work, the post-pandemic environment is tilted in favor of employees. Employers who want to retain good employees must compete in the workforce by offering the best benefits to working parents, who make up most of the labor force. What that means is: Working parents are looking for employers who understand the special challenges of work coupled with raising children. Companies that succeed will be those that support diversity, provide for the needs of working parents, and offer employees the most thoughtful benefits.
The bottom line for employees? Instead of counting perks, examine culture. What a company practices trumps the written policy you’ll be handed during the onboarding process.
Debi Yadegari is the founder and CEO of Villyge, a startup that offers employer-paid benefits that set families up for success and helps employees to thrive. She is a former Big Law attorney, a Certified Lactation Counselor, and mother of five.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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