By some measures, 2016 has been a banner year for paid parental leave in the United States.
New York state and San Francisco passed new paid leave laws in April. Etsy, Twitter and Deloitte are some of the latest companies to implement generous paid leave policies that raise the bar for all employers. And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made headlines when he took two months off for the birth of his daughter.
Yet still only 12% of private sector workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
As companies look for new ways to attract top talent, paid parental leave has become a valuable differentiator. At Indeed, we offer parental leave regardless of gender, to ensure whoever is the primary caregiver has time with their newborn.
Happy parents make a happier workplace
Paid parental leave gives families the support they need to be there for the crucial first months of a baby’s life. It also reassures them that their employers value and support their lives outside the office. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, paid leave helps boost female labor force participation and economic growth because it makes it easier for women to stay in the workforce after welcoming a new child to the family.
When parents have access to paid leave, children benefit, too. The White House reports maternity leave contributes to improved child health outcomes like higher birth weights, fewer premature births and reduced infant mortality. When men take paternity leave, they’re more engaged as fathers, they develop stronger bonds with their children, and it can even increase employment and pay for women.
By offering a paid parental leave program, you can send a clear message that you care about the health, wellbeing and quality of life of the people and families that power your business.
Businesses see greater productivity and less turnover
A growing body of research shows that offering paid parental leave isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s good for business. Paid leave programs increase worker retention and reduce turnover, which helps businesses avoid the cost of having to hire and train employees to replace those who leave to care for new children.
One study on the economic impact of paid family leave in California found that the vast majority of businesses in the state saw no effect or a positive one. “Eighty-seven percent say it has not increased costs,” writes Claire Cain Miller for The New York Times. “Nine percent say they saved money, because of decreased turnover or benefit payments.”
Tips for implementing paid parental leave to attract top talent
- Determine how much paid leave will cost and start with a program you can afford now. Adding this benefit sooner rather than later shows that you care about your workforce, and you can always extend the program in the future as budgets allow.
- Be inclusive. Understand that there are many different types of families in your workplace and don’t enforce gender or relational stereotypes in your policies. At Indeed, we offer leave to caregivers broadly to ensure every family has the time they need.
- Build parental leave into your workplace culture and employer brand. Make sure employees — especially males — feel comfortable taking advantage of the program. Encourage managers and C-suite leaders to use parental leave when they’re eligible to set an example for their teams. Publish your policy online and share info about it in interviews, since many people might be uncomfortable inquiring about it early in the hiring process.
Paid parental leave boosts worker productivity and improves employee loyalty and morale. With other industrialized nations already offering paid leave, providing these benefits makes U.S. businesses more competitive in the global talent market. And ultimately benefits your business. For more tips on staying competitive for today’s top talent, visit indeed.com/hire.