The Best Workplaces for Parents Are Maximizing the Full Human Potential of Their Employees

November 29, 2018, 12:00 PM UTC

No one anywhere says being a parent is easy, but the best companies strive to support working parents through policies that ease the worries all moms and dads face and help make the journey the joyful one it’s meant to be. From generous parental leave for both men and women to assistance for same-sex couples and adoptive parents, these policies are good not only for the employees who take advantage of them, but for the companies, too. The best companies know their human capital is their greatest asset and that supporting families makes for better employees.

One such company is media giant Comcast NBCUniversal, No. 3 on the 2018 list of Best Workplaces for Parents, published by Great Place to Work and Fortune. It’s a place where kids can be found having lunch with mom in the company cafeteria at 30 Rock in New York City (home of NBC) or learning about dad’s work at the company headquarters in Philadelphia.

“You don’t have to hide your family here,” says Bill Strahan, executive vice president of human resources for Comcast Cable, which coordinates benefits for the entire company.

For a company whose business is storytelling, it only makes sense to recognize the importance of family in the lives of its employees, says Strahan. “We understand that our employees have complex lives. We have the best people in terms of innovating new technologies, bringing creative storytelling through movies or television shows or the news, or building great products that our cable customers use in their homes – and you need the whole person. By using our resources we help them reduce the overall stress in their lives, and they are able to bring great focus and energy to do all the things we’re looking for.”

Comcast NBCUniversal offers a specialized program called myParenthood that includes fertility planning, help for employees adopting a child or using a surrogate, backup childcare either at a nearby day care center or at the employee’s workplace, paid leave to care for a sick child or other relative, and other benefits that support families. The company also offers gender-neutral paid-leave time, with the primary caregiver receiving 16 weeks and the non- primary caregiver receiving two weeks. The leave extends to adoptive parents and to parents who have had a child through a surrogate.

Diana Rocco, senior director of corporate communications at NBCUniversal, has 18-month-old twins, a girl, ZuZu, and a boy, Rocco. Diana took 16 weeks of parental leave plus some vacation time, and when she returned to the job, she was able to spend some of her time working from home. “After having twins, coming back and knowing I was supported was a nice feeling,” says Diana, who has been with the company for six years now. She also appreciated the company’s willingness to send her to a conference in Los Angeles soon after her return, a trip she wanted to make. “It’s not like, I’m a mother, so I’m not allowed to go on these trips,” she says.

Smart companies realize that fathers are just as important as mothers. “Every kind of family is supported in our program. It could be a dad because Mom is going back to work or because another Dad is going back to work,” says Strahan.

Jarret Kleppel, senior director of learning and development for technical operations at Comcast Cable, has a 15-month-old boy named Weston. “One of the greatest parts of Comcast is that this is a true family company. That goes back to the founder, Ralph Roberts. They just make you feel supported, if you need time, if you need to prioritize your family,” says Kleppel.

For example, Kleppel and his wife Hillary encountered fertility issues when they were trying to become pregnant, a process that required frequent trips to the doctor for ultrasounds, sometimes every other week. “Those appointments tend to be at 3:30 in the afternoon, and they tend to be an hour long, and I didn’t miss a single one,” says Kleppel, who has been with Comcast Cable for nearly nine years and in his current role for about three months.

Another company committed to making life better for parents and families is PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global accounting and consulting firm based in New York City. PwC, No. 5 on this year’s list of the Best Workplaces for Parents, enhanced its family care benefits in April of this year, with increased time off to care for not only a child but a spouse or aging parent, increased parental leave for both women and men, and flexible work options. The company also provides backup care, a nursing program, and other support services that include a podcast, speaker series, and parent networking circles.

Alissa Danaher is a director at PwC, where she is a leader of U.S. talent acquisition strategy and operations in Chicago. She’s also a mother of four, including a four-month-old boy named Grayden. Danaher, whose husband Kevin also works for PwC, took advantage of the company’s “transitioning” program, a new option for parents coming back to work after being out on leave.

Jennifer Allyn, diversity strategy leader for PwC, says the company realized that employees were sometimes having difficulty going from being 100 percent off – while staying at home with a new baby, or babies, as the case may be – to being 100 percent on, working full-time at the office. The transitioning period allows for about a month of working at 60 percent for full pay.

Danaher, who just returned to the office this month, plans on working three days a week. “It’s helped tremendously in helping find childcare and easing my kids back after having me home for four plus months.”

One of the changes PwC made to its family benefit plan last spring was extending reimbursement benefits to employees who choose to have a child through surrogacy. The company already offered $25,000 per adopted child, but when PwC management received a request from a gay couple who was starting a family through surrogacy, the company responded by adding reimbursement benefits to all employees with the same plan.

“This really helps our LBGT+ community, says Jennifer Allyn. “One of our gay professionals is out on leave but is coming back soon after having twins.” She says he was able to take advantage of a total surrogacy reimbursement of $50,000 for the two children.

Why all the fuss over parents? Says Jennifer Allyn, “We want to retain and advance our best talent. We know that for many of the people at PwC, parenting is one of the biggest life milestones, and we want people to know that once you are a parent, we want you to stay here and continue contributing. People worry, is this career compatible with parenthood, so we’re doing as much as possible to make sure that answer is a resounding yes.”

Read the full list of the Best Workplaces for Parents.

Julianne Slovak is a contributor to Great Place to Work and works as a freelance writer.

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