Paid parental leave is a coveted work benefit because there is no federally-mandated paid parental leave in the U.S. As a result, many employers find that this benefit is one of the most attractive ones when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent. With a younger workforce that is most impacted by parental leave policies, Buzzfeed decided to implement changes that would vastly expand their support for working parents.

In 2018, the media company decided to expand women’s and family healthcare benefits. This was in addition to Buzzfeed’s generous parental leave policy, which provides 18 weeks of fully-paid leave for primary caregivers and six weeks for secondary caregivers. Following the expansion of family healthcare support, Buzzfeed reported that 95% of their employees returned to work after parental leave. By contrast, the national average is 57%.

While the 18 weeks of paid leave is exceptional on its own, Buzzfeed chose to provide extra caregiver support through Maven, a digital platform focused on women and families that facilitates access to obstetricians, pediatricians, postpartum specialists, and other medical professionals. Maven also supports parents returning to work with career coaching, breastmilk shipping services, and other supportive resources. In one year, Buzzfeed employees interacted with Maven over 600 times.

Buzzfeed’s Global Benefits Manager, Hannah Wilkowski, explained that their employees had “felt like there weren’t enough resources for them during [pregnancy and infant caregiving]” and that, despite substantial time off, “a lot of people would go out of leave and maybe just not come back.” Adding these extra benefits made their paid leave policy even more effective for new parents’ health and employee retention.

Today, families are more likely to have both parents in the workforce. More women are also achieving top positions in companies, making them important assets to their employer and expanding equality in the workforce. Since women tend to return home to take care of a child more often than men, these paid leave and caregiver support benefits are crucial to facilitating female representation in many industries.

Benefits Of Paid Parental Leave

The benefits of paid parental leave go beyond increased employee retention. Paid leave supports almost every aspect of an employee’s well-being, most notably:

  • Physical Health – While short-term disability plans allow for six to eight weeks of leave after childbirth, many employees may be feeling physically unwell for much longer—especially when coping with sleep deprivation.
  • Family Wellness – When an employee has paid time off to care for family members’ well-being, their stress levels, emotional health, and finances are all positively impacted.
  • Emotional Health / Mental Performance – A new baby is a massive life change, whether that be through childbirth or adoption. Trying to rush an employee back to their pre-baby routine can be stressful, depressing, and overwhelming.
  • Finances – While many state regulations allow many new mothers to stay home with a new child for up to certain number of weeks, increased spending on childcare and medical services during this time usually prevents employees from fully taking advantage of this extended time off.

When mental, physical, and financial wellness are improved, employees can return to work with more focus, energy, and positivity—resulting in higher productivity.

Sustained Support For Parents

Navigating a major life change while returning to a job after months away can be a frustrating process for an individual. Employers should continue to support parents once they return from leave; it can be an excellent way to distinguish a company’s parental benefits from other employers for prospective workers.

This support can be as simple as having managers check-in more often with returning workers or review tasks they may not have done in a while. It can also be extremely beneficial to offer flexible scheduling or remote work options. Parents will be attending numerous doctor’s appointments during a child’s first year, including routine pediatric check-ups and sick visits, as well as appointments relating to postpartum care. Allowing appropriate time for these visits significantly reduces stress levels, while ensuring that physical health needs are being taken care of.

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