Things like family leave, flexible working and promoting a culture of understanding are simple ways employers can support carers and parents.
Caring for dependents is a large part of the reason why many people work – they want to provide for their families. Nowadays more and more employers are cottoning on to this fact and they are providing benefits and supports for working parents, guardians and carers.
For example, in 2021, Pinterest announced it would be introducing minimum of 20 weeks’ parental leave, where before it offered 12 weeks. It also said it was adding paid leave for pregnancy loss, as well as IVF and egg freezing benefits.
The same year, fashion tech company Rent The Runway also said it would offer 20 weeks’ paid leave for all new parents.
And, more recently, Vodafone Ireland introduced new benefits including leave for pregnancy loss, fertility treatment and surrogacy. It consulted experts at Rotunda Hospital in Dublin to inform these new policy decisions, which were introduced last year.
‘If a company can be flexible, their employees tend to be happy to give back’
– AISHLING GOULDEN
SiliconRepublic.com asked some companies about what kind of benefits they provide to workers with families and dependents.
Katie Banks, VP of global people and workplace at Nitro talked us through the company’s family policy, which it introduced last year.
All employees, not just birthing parents
It was designed for all employees, not just birthing parents, she said. It includes “flexible leave and fertility benefits for individuals undergoing fertility treatments, pursuing alternative paths to parenthood (such as adoption and surrogacy), or experiencing pregnancy loss at any stage”.
To further support family planning, Nitro partnered with an organisation called Maven to offer fertility treatment and related benefits to staff. The programme comes with a $500 stipend for baby bonding activities, such as lactation consultants and parenting classes.
KPMG’s inclusion and diversity manager Bethany Cotter said the company offers much the same perks as some of the companies already mentioned, including leave for maternity, paternity, adoptive, fertility, surrogacy, pregnancy loss and carer’s support.
It’s not just leave companies can offer though. Cotter said KPMG partners with an organisation called Talking Talent that provides maternity and paternity coaching. It also works with Platform 55 which runs on demand webinars on family-related topics.
And PwC has a similar type of scheme added on to its leave benefits, which it calls the “parents and carers pillar”. This is an employee-led programme which provides a support community to working parents and carers.
Really, the best way that workplaces can support parents and carers is to be understanding of people.
An understanding culture
Orla O’Neill of PwC’s people experience team described it as “an inclusive culture” that also treats staff like adults and trusts them to do their best work.
Life gets in the way sometimes, and everyone from CEOs to junior staff members should know that. Tolerance and compassion and good, solid ‘people-first’ values are beneficial for everyone when it comes to working – and that often has productivity advantages too.
As Aishling Goulden, head of HR at Viatris Ireland, pointed out, “if a company can be flexible, their employees tend to be happy to give back”.
For Viatris, the benefits that every employee in Ireland has access to include private healthcare for employees and their families, fully paid maternity leave for six months, career breaks, phased return-to-work schemes following extended leave, wellness programmes and fully supported educational assistance to upskill.
“We understand that outside of work our employees have many things to balance, whether it’s child-care, adult-care or self-care so being as flexible as possible with our employees is vital,” Goulden said.
Lorna Dunne, HR business partner at Henkel, agreed with Goulden’s point about culture, adding that Henkel has a “strong entrepreneurial spirit” that rewards as well as challenges employees. “We have created a supportive environment that caters to the needs of parents and families. Through a range of benefits and perks, we are committed to promoting work-life balance.”
Like the other companies featured in this article, these benefits and perks include fully paid maternity and paternity leave and the freedom for workers to design their own parental leave options.
Flexible and hybrid working is, of course, another way companies can support parents and carers. People with young children sometimes need just as much flexibility and understanding as new parents do.
According to Cotter, KPMG provides emergency childcare cover, which offers parents and guardians three days back-up childcare when their regular care arrangements fall through.
Not everyone likes to work at home with their kids, but for many the pandemic-induced switch to remote and hybrid working models was a godsend allowing them to spend more time with their families and get more work done.
Thankfully, a lot of employers realise this and they seem to be incorporating flexible working into their perks parental packages.
“We understand that parenting demands require adaptable work arrangements, which is why we offer flexible working options,” said Dunne from Henkel.
John Conneely, Dublin-based product manager with Personio, is one of thousands of parents who has juggled welcoming a new baby with work responsibilities. He explained that when he did his interview for the job he was concerned the fact he was becoming a parent soon might harm his chances.
“When I joined Personio, we already knew that we had a baby on the way. And even though I had mentioned this to my recruiter, I was still a little worried about letting my manager know.”
But, he said his manager was “excited and supportive”.
“We got right down to discussing the best options for me to take my parental leave so I could support my partner and child in those key first months of life. This people-centred approach has provided me with the flexibility I need to support my family whilst maintaining and progressing in my career.”
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