Back in the 1950s, a man wouldn’t dream of taking paternity leave. Most households were supported by one income, and men weren’t expected to want or need the time off.
Fortunately, more men today want to be involved in their child’s first weeks at home, and Americans are starting to voice their support for paternity leave. In one Pew survey from 2017, 69% of Americans believed that fathers should have paid paternity leave. Some companies are beginning to see the change in culture, offering at least unpaid paternity leave in addition to maternity leave.
Despite this cultural shift, some people still aren’t on board with the idea of paternity leave, and many men are worried about how their time off will affect your job. If your company is part of the growing trend of offering parental leave to both men and women, good for you!
Whether you’ve given a lot of thought to your parental leave policy or you’re still working on it, here’s how you can support your employees on paternity leave and show them that you know how important, joyful (and stressful!) this time is for them.
1. Offer Flexible Hours
Coming back to work with a new baby in the house isn’t easy. Once your employee is back in the office, offering flexible hours can make life much less stressful for the new parent.
With sleepless nights, a baby’s unpredictable needs, and other variables, a new parent’s schedule can be hectic. Unless your employee has a compelling reason to need to be in the office at a specific time, offer flexible hours or even allow them to do some work from home.
Something as simple as expressing your understanding of it being a time of transition and that you’re open to accommodate this change in their life can do wonders for morale and stress levels.
Feeling secure and valued will not only help support your employees, it can also improve loyalty and productivity in the long run. Regular positive communication is key to preventing turnover and maintaining workplace happiness.
3. Give Them a The Gift of Relaxation
Lack of sleep, concern over the baby’s well-being, and helping their partner can all take a toll on your employee’s well-being.
Consider giving them the gift of a little relaxation and time to themselves. A coupon for a massage or yoga class can help manage the stress and worry of being a new parent immensely. In fact, one study revealed that massage therapy could reduce the “stress hormone” cortisol by 31%!
4. Have the Team Chip In
More than likely, your employee on paternity leave will have some sympathetic coworkers who know how tough it is to be a new parent.
Organizing a collective gift for the new parents, like a fruit basket, can be a great way to show the office’s support and congratulations. This shouldn’t be obligatory, of course, but most employees will likely want to be a part of the group gift.
5. Consider Establishing or Reviewing your Paternity Leave Policy
In order to support your employee throughout their leave, it’s important to fully review and understand your company’s policies before you talk to them about it. If you don’t currently have an official paternity leave policy, your employee’s new addition might be the catalyst for establishing one.
It’s important to make sure your employees feel supported and valued when they take parental leave, and it’s very easy for hard feelings to brew if managers don’t understand the company’s policies and give out misinformation.
6. Offer Paid Parental Leave
If you’ve only offered unpaid leave up to this point, you may want to consider implementing paid leave. Your employees will be able to take the time they need to bond with their new addition without worrying about money and potentially coming back to work too soon.
While paid leave is still an emerging benefit in the United States, employers who offer it can attract more experienced workers who value paid parental leave. Age plays a role in how important parental leave is to prospective employees, and you can attract top talent with more experience by offering paid parental leave.
7. Create a Transition Plan Ahead of Time
Knowing what to expect after the baby enters the household is key for both employer and employee. In addition to the amount of time the employee will be taking off, managers should work with employees to create a transition plan ahead of time.
This might include who will be taking over key duties, what needs to be done ahead of time, and what will occur when the employee returns. This improves communication and provides clarity to both parties as to what expectations will be before and after the leave.
Ryan Ayers is a strategy and management consultant with over five years of experience in multiple industries including information technology, medical devices and logistics. Many clients call him the BizTech Guru. He is a freelance writer on the side and lover of all things related to business, technology, innovation and the LA Clippers.
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