Can you take afford to take time off when when you become a parent? It probably depends on your employer. Maternity and paternity leave policies vary widely across the American workplace, depending on your job and industry. And if your employer doesn’t feel like offering paid leave, you won’t get it: The U.S., unlike nearly all of our peers among developed nations, doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave to workers. It guarantees unpaid leave up to 12 weeks for new moms and dads, thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act , but even that doesn’t do a lot to help parents afford that new baby.
But if you’re lucky enough to have one of those forward-thinking employers we mentioned earlier, you might get more than just paid time off. The newest perk from the most competitive workplaces is parental leave coaching — to help you know what to expect when you’re expecting (to be out of the workplace for a few weeks or months). But why is this a good thing?
1. Employers Should Be Invested in Workers’ Well-Being
Instead of gritting their teeth and simply abiding by federal law, employers like Etsy and Ernst & Young are actually working with employees to make their leave better. It pays to do this because, because feeling prepared for parenthood helps workers stress less in the weeks leading up to their leave time, which is awesome for productivity and mental health. Also, working for an employer that demonstrably cares about their well-being has to have a positive effect on workers’ job satisfaction, and encourages them to return to work after their leave is up.
2. Coaching Can Help With a Lot of Important Life Skills
Coaches can help workers figure out the stuff they should be thinking about, but might not be, like financial planning or balancing work and life after leave. It’s open to partners who aren’t giving birth, too, so everyone involved in the parental unit can get the benefits of some third-party guidance — as well as some encouragement for fathers who might not otherwise feel empowered to take their leave. Managers are often involved in coaching sessions, to help facilitate communication and set expectations about goals.
3. Keeping Parents Employed Is Better for the Company
If employers want parents to rejoin the workforce after they turn their lives upside down with a new child, then they’d better make that work environment the best it can be. Caroline Fairchild at Fortune Magazine points out that “top employers know that to retain the best employees, they need to offer more. It traditionally costs two to three times someone’s salary to replace them, and losing high-ranking talent is bad for company morale.”
So what can employers do to help coach prospective parents? Hire a professional, of course. Many agencies that offer these services have long waiting lists, but they can offer group sessions to help cut down on time commitments from already-stretched coaches. If your workplace doesn’t already offer this service, maybe passing along some details to your HR team or boss could make a big impact.
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