Members of the millennial generation are now a major part of today’s workforce, and there’s one thing they have in common: They like their time off. In survey after survey, members of this generation say they prefer more flexibility, independence, and time off — even over higher compensation.
Paid time off for new parents is a big part of this. More and more businesses are offering very generous paid time off benefits for both spouses when a new child is born or adopted. Just recently, CNET reported on an IBM announcement that the tech giant was expanding its paid time off policy to 20 weeks for new moms who’ve given birth and 12 weeks for new dads, partners, and adoptive parents. Facebook already allows four months of paid time off for new parents, as does Bank of America. Leading the pack in this area is Netflix, which — and I am not exaggerating — allows new parents to take up to one year of paid time off after a baby is born.
The benefits don’t just stop at paid time off.
According to the CNET report, companies such as Apple, eBay, Google, and Intel offer egg freezing benefits and IBM has for the past two years helped arrange (and pay for) the shipping home of a mother’s milk while she is traveling on business.
If you’re a small business, it’s kind of tough to compete with this stuff, isn’t it?
Uh…yeah. So what to do?
Here are two things to try:
First, piggyback on existing paid time off requirements from the government. Currently, businesses with more than 50 employees must offer 12 weeks of unpaid time off to their employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Consider making this available regardless of whether you have 50 employees or not — and maybe adding a few weeks of paid time (or half paid if that’s more affordable) to supplement the unpaid time off that’s already being offered. Also, keep an eye on potential changes to paid time off legislation for new parents in the future — the current administration supports this.
Second, expand your work-from-home rules. If you can’t afford a generous paid time off policy for new parents like IBM or Netflix, at least give your employees the technology and the flexibility to do some work from home, so they can ease back into the job. Believe it or not, many new parents do want to come back to work — not just for financial reasons but for sanity! Allowing them to work from home helps with this transition.
You’re not IBM. You’re a small business, and there’s certainly nothing bad about that. In many ways, a small business can be more flexible, generous, and empathetic to employees today than BigGiantCo. Maybe you can’t offer a year off for a newborn, but you can still make the transition easier for a new parent that you employ, while helping them stay productive.