How the Best Workplaces Are Winning Over Employees With Parental Benefits

November 14, 2019, 12:00 PM UTC
HubSpot-Best Workplaces for Parents 2019 story
A Hubspotter and her family march in the 2018 Boston Pride Parade. Courtesy of HubSpot
Courtesy of HubSpot

Becoming and being a working parent isn’t what it used to be.

Today it can involve advanced fertility treatments, adoption, and blending road warrior jobs with breast feeding duties. There’s also greater interest by young fathers to take paternity leave and a growing recognition that new mothers in particular need support if they are going to integrate career and family life.

Amid the shifts in technology and social norms, companies are being called on to update their policies and benefits for new parents.

The Best Workplaces for Parents take a comprehensive approach to employees becoming mothers and fathers.

More than 75% of expecting mothers say they’re excited to return to work, but 43% of new mothers drop out of the workforce after having a baby, says Kate Ryder, CEO of Maven Clinic, which provides a host of maternity-related services to organizations. Many women becoming moms struggle with a range of issues, Ryder says, including lack of support and easy access to health services, inflexible corporate cultures, and bosses unaware of the challenges involved in caring for a newborn.

The best organizations are supporting parents—and preserving key talent—by doing more than just offering paid parental leave, Ryder says. They take a holistic view of supporting new moms and dads by offering benefits like career coaching and courses designed to increase leader empathy for employees coming back from parental leaves.

“The really innovative companies are doubling down on the return-to-work and manager training pieces,” Ryder says.

The 2019 Best Workplaces for Parents

A broad approach to parental support is what you find among the 2019 Best Workplaces for Parents. The workplace culture experts at Great Place to Work just announced this list in partnership with Fortune. Hotel giant Hilton ranked No. 1 on the list, followed by technology provider Cisco Systems, software firm HubSpot, entertainment company Comcast NBCUniversal, and financial services provider Edward Jones.

To create the ranking, Great Place to Work analyzed survey results representing more than 4.6 million U.S. employees. Parents’ and non-parents’ responses to more than 60 survey questions were compared. The data revealed that after having children, parents—especially mothers—generally have a worse experience than their colleagues in arenas including inclusivity and opportunities for advancement at their organizations.

Great Place to Work examined organizations’ success in overcoming these differences in experience to create a great place to work for all employees, regardless of parenting status. The analysis also assessed the quality of parental leave, adoption, flexible schedule, childcare, and dependent health care benefits.

In addition, Great Place to Work considered how parenting status influenced other aspects of employees’ work experience, including their perception of the company living up to its values, people’s opportunities to innovate, and the effectiveness of leaders.

The United States is rare among nations with advanced economies in not having a federal paid parental leave policy. As a result, some version of paid time off to have a baby is a prized benefit for U.S. parents. About 40% of U.S. employers now offer paid parental leave for both the birth and non-birth parent, up from about 25% in 2015, according to a study earlier this year.

Millennial dads want to be involved

There’s increased interest on the part of young dads to bond with newborns, according to Great Place to Work’s recent study of millennials at work. The report found that millennials are talking about caregiving responsibilities, especially paternity leave, more than other generations. Millennials in managerial positions voice a strong desire to take paternity leave.

Edward Jones-Best Workplaces for Parents 2019 story
Edward Jones associates and families support Alzheimer’s Association Walk Across America.
Courtesy of Edward Jones

At the 2019 Best Workplaces for Parents, employees appreciate generous time off to give birth and care for a baby. “Great parental leave policy,” said an employee at law firm Cooley LLP, ranked No. 11 on the list. “You can take 10 weeks of leave and can do it in different spurts throughout a year. Very helpful.”

But these Best Workplaces also win over employees with a wider set of parent-friendly features, including latitude when it comes to work locations and hours. “Flexible schedules to allow me to be home for my kids and parents and do my work,” said a parent at consulting firm Kimley Horn. “Fantastic support for new moms. Made coming back from maternity leave so much easier.”

Kimley-Horn offers seven weeks of fully paid leave for new mothers. Among its flexibility options is the ability to work a less-than-fulltime schedule while remaining eligible for bonuses, health benefits, and retirement contributions.

In effect, Kimley-Horn and other Best Workplaces for Parents are viewing parental benefits with a more expansive lens. Maven Clinic’s offerings represent this new perspective. Egg freezing and surrogacy birth arrangements are among its fertility services. Under its “maternity” products are support for post-partum depression and miscarriage, as well as access to a women’s and family telehealth network. And Maven Clinic’s “return to work” offerings include breast milk shipping services for traveling mothers, employee coaching and manager training.

Ryder says this extensive set of services is needed given that employees today can become parents in so many different ways. That leads to increasing complexity when it comes to what companies cover and do not cover. For example, if a surrogate birth is a benefit, what happens if the surrogate birth mother decides to keep the child—could that exhaust the financial coverage offered to the employee?

“There’s a lot of nuance,” Ryder says. “There are so many ‘edge cases’ around how somebody becomes a parent, and it is critical that companies support every path to parenthood.”

See the full list of the Best Workplaces for Parents.

Ed Frauenheim is the senior director of content at Great Place to Work and a co-author of the book A Great Place to Work For All.