when workplace cultures support paternity leave, all employees benefit

Culture.

It's still a buzz word that can be applied to anything and any type of business, but over the past couple decades, it's often referenced a little too loosely. Some companies get it and work hard to not only put a great culture into practice, but work even harder to implement and follow through on their promises, core values, vision etc.

Other companies say they have a culture, but management from the top down don't live it or act on it and therefore, don't follow through. Yet they expect their employees to. They basically don't practice what they preach. 

I've seen it all too often and have worked for some companies who have flawed cultures and systems in place. They either want to make a job posting look amazing to get great applicants or they do it to 'fluff up' their "Top Company" nominations and submissions. Or they expect the employees to follow through, but not top management. Whatever it is, its nothing but fake news if you ask me. And I hate Trump, but the reference was appropriate.

But culture is one thing. Supporting parents (in particular, fathers) and providing paternity leave is another. It has long been assumed and accepted that mother's stay home with their children and put work to the side. But now, father's want the same benefits and rightfully so. Why shouldn't they get the same privilege of spending time with their new son or daughter without having to worry about the financial burden in order to take an absence from work?

More and more companies are taking a long, hard look at implementing paternity benefits and policies and the successful ones who do, have noticed how it directly affects culture and employee retention. In a positive way.

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According to an HBR article, their research suggests that companies with higher participation in programs designed to support working parents have higher employee retention and job satisfaction, both factors that balance out the cost of offering fatherhood benefits.

Isn't it about time ALL companies who can do so, implement these programs to support working mothers and fathers? Having simple programs in place to allow both parents schedule flexibility, financial and social support and other allowances would lift the burden on parents and fathers who worry about not 'being as present' or putting in the ridiculous hours they normally would. Facebook is one of the few companies taking family, paternity and maternity leave seriously and they have their COO to thank. Sheryl Sandberg has been extremely vocal on supporting and implementing the Family Act (which establishes federally mandated paid leave) and is pushing to have legislation pass this bill at the federal level.But she states that its important to have the, even more important that employees actually use them. 

Return Path, a former client, is also a company with amazing employee benefits and an impressive culture. They offer paid parental leave, paid sabbatical, open vacation, tuition reimbursement, a full wellness and heath package and much more. Return Path has done the opposite of what most companies do - they've gotten rid of all the tight policies companies often put on employees and they've created an environment of trust. You get out what you put in and the trust they have with their employees and vice versa, is the proof in the pudding.

In Canada, we are lucky. Most women are given 12 months paid maternity leave which has now been extended to 18 months if they choose. Plus, a lot of companies have implemented paternity leave, full maternity leave top up and more work/life flexibility when it comes to their schedules and demands as a parent. We are lucky to live in a country where this is the norm, and I hope to see other countries governments follow suit. rising to the challenge in doing so for their employees. Europe leads the charge when it comes to such progressive benefits and programs. Countries like Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium are trailblazers when it comes to employee benefits and work/life balance.

At the end of the day, our workforce is evolving and so is the role of "parent". Fathers are becoming much more engaged, taking an active role in splitting the parenting duties because we no longer live in a time where the majority of women stay home after having a child and are expected to do everything. More women have fulfilling careers, their having children later in life (including myself), and they're getting back into the work force much quicker after having a child.

Sounds like things are moving in the right direction. And it illustrates that true culture goes far beyond just looking good to the public. It should be deeply rooted, practiced and preached in every sense of the word. After all, your employees are a company's greatest assets.

Read the full HBR article here.