Maternity programs are enticing new parents to abandon companies that don’t offer them. Learn more about what businesses are doing to stay ahead of the curve and attract top talent in the marketplace.
When it comes to work-life balance, the challenges that expectant and new mothers face are very different from others. They not only have to worry about returning to the workforce after maternity breaks, they also have to worry about the long hours after they join, especially if it’s an early-stage startup.
India may be the hottest startup destination in Asia, but when it comes to gender, the statistics are skewed in favour of men. Only 27% of the workforce comprises women, and only 9% of startup founders are female. India has long been known to have the highest rates of economic gender disparity, so what’s new? Startups and corporates in India are reversing this trend. Several women-friendly workplace initiatives have been introduced, from maternity benefits to flexible working hours and more. Read on to know more about the benefits that maternity programs can bring to your business and the companies that are leading this trend today.
What are companies doing?
Whether its women looking to restart their careers, childcare opportunities at work, or maternity leave benefits packages, these are some of the companies that are leading change and hoping for others to follow.
Thoughtworks‘ Vapasi programme
Vapasi means ‘return’ in Hindi. This global technology major is spearheading an initiative to encourage the return of female software developers back into the workforce, after their long breaks. They are offering women a four-week boot camp that intensively covers object-oriented programming, and so far they have managed to secure many futures.
Nestaway: A workplace without discrimination
This Bangalore-based startup is an online marketplace for home rentals. In 2018, they made workplace discrimination a focus area. Along with JobsForHer they helped women, who took long career breaks, return to the workforce. They aim to increase the women workforce percentage, which stands at 18% currently, to a more equitable mix.
Netflix: Leader in parental leave benefits
Full-time workers at this TV and movie streaming giant receive up to a full year of paid time off when they become parents – this policy has made them pioneers in this field. Employees are paid full salary, regardless of how much time they take off. Both new mothers and fathers, and employees can take time off and return to work, when they want.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Flexibility and financial certainty for new parents
With up to 52 weeks of paid leave during the first year after their child’s birth, the Gates Foundation matched wants to help their working parents to thrive professionally while creating strong and resilient families.
Spotify: Over 6 months of paid leave
This Sweden-based music streaming company provides a full 24 weeks of paid leave for both moms and dads, which can be taken over a period of three years. Add to that, 1 month off to help them transition back to their jobs by working from home or working part-time.
Why are maternity programs essential?
A revolutionary or unique paid leave policy isn’t just to land your company on a magazines list. There are many benefits beyond that. Offering paid leave to expectant mothers and new moms can benefit your company in the following areas:
As Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records said, “Paid leave isn’t just a cost, it’s an investment in your staff, and it pays big dividends.” Paid maternity leave programs that keep up with the realities of workers and their families have positive effects on a company’s bottom line. This is due to increased worker productivity and morale at the workplace. A healthy work-life balance means happy employees and a happier and more productive workplace. When employees are assured that their company values their life outside work, and is willing to grant them paid leave to focus on it, they are less stressed at work and are able to focus better.
Keeping your existing employees happy will boost your retention rates. Mothers especially, may be unsure about staying at work if they don’t see that its 100% worth their efforts. Your company’s paid leave policy and benefits packages will be crucial to their decision here. Research has shown that firms, who don’t provide paid maternity leave to their female employees, will find that they are less likely to return. Hence, a lot of time, money and resources invested are lost due.
Recruiting the best talent
It’s been found that many young women find paid weeks off to be a good differentiator between companies. That also means that, for companies, the ROI from maternity leave programs come in the form of hiring the best talent in the industry. The new hires are more engaged at work and that eventually adds value to your company’s bottom line.
The challenges faced by those making a return to the workplace
Many mothers, who return to work after their maternity leaves, find that their return is harder than they anticipated. Even before they return, they feel mixed emotions regarding leaving their child with caregivers. But, they are also eager to get back to their routine. A few challenges they face on the way are:
Coping with work after a long gap
Firms need to support women making a return, or they will be left feeling frustrated and disappointed by. Colleagues, especially management and teammates, may also hold an unconscious bias against them on their return to the team, and their professional relationships can suffer, as a result.
Leaving the child at home
New mothers who have to make the decision of hiring caregivers to take care of their child, feel the anxiety and stress that come with the decision. This can lead to major distractions at work.
Since they’ve been out of the work environment for a while, they will be out of touch with the current happenings and what their latest roles entail. They will need to be re-trained in order to perform their tasks effectively.
Employers role in ensuring a smooth transition back in to the workplace
Let’s look at a few examples of companies who are making the return of women and men employees to the workplace a smooth one.
Genpact: Returning Moms Program
This program by business service firm Genpact, allows returning moms to choose their own work shifts in the first year and they can also work from company locations close to home. The HR managers keep close contact with women from the time they announce pregnancy to the time of childbirth. This encourages them to get back to the workplace with eagerness.
Sapient: All about You
To relieve stress off their workforce, Sapient offers a mobile app “all about You!” to help mothers stay up-to-date with various seminars and training sessions happening in the organization.
SAP Labs: Run Mummier
The Run Mummier app is used by SAP to assign an official buddy at work to pregnant women and it supports them on the key issues of transition, work, parenting, staying connected, self-image and support. It also advises them on the maternity benefits available to them.
Other benefits you can offer your women workforce
Support childcare: If it’s possible, have an onsite childcare facility. Otherwise, consider having an arrangement for emergency situations to relieve stress of your employees.
Concierge service: Someone that will run errands for mothers. It will act as a huge time saver and this service will also earn the appreciation of your colleagues.
Keep In Touch (KIT) Days: Give moms and dads, on leave a way to stay in touch with work by arranging conference calls during meetings or other events. You could even arrange a lunch where new moms can stop by, but make sure you get their preferred times and events.
These are a few steps you can take to ensure parents at the workplace engaged and worry-free. Add these ideas to your wellness program.
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