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Supporting Your Workers, Starting With Their Families

Everyone from the U.S. remembers summertime as a child. It can be a time for playing outside, hanging around swimming pools, eating watermelons and shooting off fireworks. Kids relish the three month break from school they are granted, all the while busy parents scramble to fill the extra time with activities and intellectual stimulation.

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Summer can be a challenge for parents who suddenly are faced with finding something for their child to do during “out of school” times. In the United States, approximately 60% of married parent households feature both parents working. Single parent households make up 25% of families in the United States, and of those a staggering 80% are single mothers. These statistics can make the summer a challenge for parents who rely on afterschool programs, daycare services, and specialized school classes.

How then can a company, specifically a startup, work to ease the stress of parents taking care of a child or newborn?

Adopt Robust Policies

The easiest way for a company to help families is by adopting policies that show they support employees’ family. Some policies of these company could be:

  • An extensive and fair paid leave for new mothers and fathers. The United States is one of the only countries in the world that does not offer national paid maternity leave, instead leaving the option up to companies themselves. There is strong data to support that the cost benefit analysis of having a long maternity leave compared to loss of production is heavily in favor of maternity leave. There is also extensive data to support paternal leave, which is much less prevalent. This will not only improve employee trust in their company, but will also increase the health of a new family, making it easier for the employee to work going forward.
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  • Having a mothers room. Something that is incredibly valuable for new/nursing mothers is to have a separate, physical space in the office. This is meaningful to nursing mothers because it allows them privacy and resources to pump breastmilk for their children. It can be embarrassing and unsanitary to pump in a bathroom. Some companies even supply the pumping machine in the mothers room so the employees only have to bring the components instead of an entire machine.
  • Providing access to childcare. This is a policy that is definitely more prominent in larger companies, however popular companies like Adobe, Amazon, and Google have made an emphasis on creating a physical space for children to be along with caretakers on staff. This alleviates the stress of the summer time especially for parents who generally work during the day. As you grow and scale, consider investing in the infrastructure that will allow children to be able to spend time at the office without worry.
  • Take a stand on a national paid leave policy. National paid leave is a common policy within U.S. counterparts such as Germany, France, and Japan. Currently there are certain states that allow for a governmental paid leave but there is still no national policy. In a study conducted in 2018, 84% of people surveyed (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents) claimed that they are in support of a national paid leave. This proves that this issue goes beyond political affiliation. Due to the bipartisan nature of such a policy it is a low risk/high reward company move to stand with their employees to support it nationally. Here is a list of businesses that have begun the conversation for a national paid leave along with resources to get involved.
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Why is this valuable? 

The workforce is changing and employees are no longer willing to work at one company for their entire career if they are not receiving the benefits they feel like they require. Currently the median amount of years an individual will stay with one company is approximately 4. Many workers, especially Millennials and Gen Z workers, take no issue leaving an organization if their needs are not met. Talented employees have claimed what swayed them one way or the other when deciding where to work was the existence of a paid leave program.

Startup founders consider their teams their family and they deserve to be treated as such. One thing that is important to understand is that workers are more than just what they do for a company. Many of them have complex, personal journeys that have led them to be where they are. Many of those journeys feature a family. Through adopting policies that support workers’ families it shows that the company is aware of life beyond the office, and that is perhaps the most valuable tool of all in achieving low turnover.

Author: Paxton Dodd

Paxton is currently working towards his Master's degree in Communication at Purdue University. He has spent the last year teaching and taking courses along with freelancing. He is interested in creative marketing and data analysis.