Four Enticing Benefits To Support Working Parents In Your Company

Originally published on Forbes (by Mary Beth Ferrante) — As 2018 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the current state of affairs for working parents and how cultural norms surrounding work and family life are (slowly but surely) shifting. We’re seeing companies scramble as they attempt to attract and retain top female talent by offering paid parental leave (take a look at some of the best and worst policies of 2018), as well as, enticing benefits.

When companies support working parents, they are not only committing to helping them integrate both their professional and family lives but are also advancing their own bottom line. By increasing paid parental leave, companies not only attract better talent but reduce attrition rates and improve productivity. When Google, for instance, expanded their leave from 12 weeks to 18 weeks, the rate at which new mothers quit dropped by 50%, which translates into millions of dollars saved for the company. Working parents, in particular mothers, who feel supported are not only retained at higher rates but are happier for it. And in a recent discussion with SAP’s Chief Learning Officer, Jenny Dearborn, she highlighted that it not only is paid leave important for the men and women taking parental leave but goes further to increase overall employee engagement. Dearborn shared,

When other employees notice their colleague, their neighbor, their work shift partner is being taken care of during this critical time, that treatment affects them as well and in turn, creates an overall family-friendly culture.  And that matters, not only to our culture but to the bottom line.  SAP has seen that a one percent increase in the employee engagement index correlates to $75M in net operating profit.

Paid parental leave is the foundation and a sure way to ensure that employees feel valued, however, family-friendly benefits do more than just look good on paper; they represent the ongoing commitment of companies who wish to see working parents thrive both at home and the office. Offering these benefits individualizes the work experience and sends a clear message to employees that their personal needs and desires are being heard and considered.

As companies continue to develop new policies at record speed, we wanted to pause and acknowledge some exciting benefits worth highlighting. These benefits across all industries are giving working parents peace of mind while allowing them to perform at their very best. Here we dive a bit deeper and share why parents find these benefits vital to their success at work:

  • Maven Clinic is a digital clinic that connects women to vetted healthcare practitioners. Their Maven Maternity program is a one-stop-shop that covers everything a busy professional might need when they start a family, including IVF support, partner support, adoption, surrogacy, and pregnancy. Maven’s 15-month maternity program was standout, focusing on the entire maternity, postpartum, and return-to-work experience. Its unrivaled network of over 1,200 highly vetted health providers, including specialists like lactation consultants, career coaches, and sleep coaches, has a practitioner for every user. As one employee on their platform shared:

This is an exceptional benefit! Women’s health is underfunded and undersupported out there in the world and I love that my company is providing me with financial assistance and other resources to achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a mom.

  • Helpr, the brainchild of two friends who met in college, provides high-quality and affordable childcare for those with gaps in coverage, all from the convenience of your phone. Parents can peruse profiles of highly-vetted babysitters and choose from a selection of top-notch providers. And while any parent can access the service with the app, forward-thinking companies nationwide are subsidizing backup care for their employees with kids. According to their website: Helpr empowers hard-working parents to balance their professional growth with raising a healthy family. A mother at a major tech company had this to say about the service which was subsidized by her employer:

It’s been a critical service on a couple of days where my youngest’ preschool was closed. Helpr was invaluable to my sanity, as it allowed me to get to a meeting down in Cupertino with Apple that I absolutely could not reschedule.

  • Best Upon Request or BEST provides on-site concierge services to organizations across the country.  BEST helps employers increase engagement and commitment while easing the stressors of employees’ everyday lives. Teresa Tanner, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Fifth Third Bank tapped BEST to help develop the Maternity Concierge program for her company. She had this to say about its impact:

We launched our Maternity Concierge program to help our female employees during what many see as the most difficult time in their career – the time when they choose to start a family and that transition back to work. The free program provides support for employees from pregnancy through their babies’ first year and includes assistance with everything from finding child care to baby shower planning. We want to increase the number of women we have in our top leadership roles, and this is one way to help. Our initial results are encouraging, showing that women who enrolled in our program were almost 25 percent more likely to remain at the bank six months after returning from maternity leave than women who didn’t use the program.

  • Milk Stork – Historically, when new working mothers were asked to travel for work and wished to continue providing breastmilk to their child, their options were limited and they often sought formula as the only viable choice. Which is why Kate Torgersen created Milk Stork, the breastmilk shipping service for traveling mothers who pump on the go and needed a way to send their breastmilk home to their babies. Within ten days of launching her company, Torgersen got a call from one of the largest pharmaceutical companies that wanted to offer the service to their employees:

I took the call from my minivan in a parking lot, and I said sure, we can launch in 30 days. From there it just took off.  We had five companies on the enterprise side. I hadn’t considered the enterprise route. I thought, so many women are pumping in closets and bathrooms, we already have it hard how could I ever convince a company. It was the working moms who rightfully were asking for it. They went to their employers and said if you want me back in 3 months, and to take this trip; I’m asking you to support me with this service. To the credit of, especially women in HR, they wanted to offer it to their employees. It’s been a sisterhood of these moms and HR professionals advocating for parent-friendly benefits who completely understood the proposition of what we are creating.”

Paid parental leave and progressive family-friendly benefits like those mentioned above are a must to keep employees engaged in the workforce. Though offering these benefits is important, they simply can’t replace the need for supportive and empathetic managers and leaders in the workplace. At the end of the day, these benefits get us a step closer, but there’s so much work left to be done if we aim to dismantle the underlying bias holding working mothers back.

Original article available here:

7 Risks to Avoid In Your Business People Management

Originally published on Huffington Post (by Martin Zwilling) — Even after many years mentoring entrepreneurs and advising businesses, I continue to be surprised by the primary focus on products and processes, and the often incidental attention to hiring and nurturing the right people. Employees are still too often thought of as a commodity, to be acquired “just in time” for the lowest cost, and managed as a disposable asset.

All this despite continuing evidence that the right people make a business succeed, rather than the other way around. Further, according to more recent surveys, businesses that use data and tools in their people management, rather than traditional manual processes, see a 79% higher return than other organizations, suggesting the time is ripe for relying on data and analytics.

With the latest advances in software technology, it’s no longer cost-prohibitive for business entrepreneurs, who can’t yet afford a human resources department, to take advantage of analytics tools. Almost any startup can start with Excel, and move to open-source data analysis tools, including Python or RStudio. Bigger organizations should invest in the new “big data” tools.

For a hands-on guide in developing data-driven people strategies, I found some practical techniques in a new book, “The Data Driven Leader,” by Jenny Dearborn and David Swanson. Based on many years of HR leadership at SAP and elsewhere, these authors start by highlighting the risks of not leveraging data analytics. I have added my own observations to theirs as follows:

  1. People decision making by gut, more than data. Common sense and emotionally driven decisions are sub- optimal in assessing team members. Data, however, removes guesswork, biases, and anecdotal reasoning that can throw decision efforts off course. It’s the same for customers and products, where analytics have long proven their value.
  2. Working on the wrong problem or assumption. Data helps avoid predetermined (and often erroneous) approaches to solving your people problems. Don’t let one incident, observation, rumor, or misunderstanding cause a rush to judgement, or hiring mistake. Make sure subjective feedback is buttressed by objective data before making decisions.
  3. Measuring efficiency rather than effectiveness. Efficiency in the workplace is the time it takes to do something, but it can ignore work quality and customer impact. Employees are often ineffective because they don’t care about their work or because they don’t possess the skills to contribute. Use data analysis and metrics to measure for results.
  4. Subjectively measuring employee engagement. Manually assessing engagement clearly isn’t working. According to Gallup’s most recent global engagement survey, only 13 percent of workers are now fully engaged in their job, which is hugely expensive in productivity. With data and analytics, you can gauge employee engagement accurately.
  5. Underestimating absenteeism and accident costs. Many businesses still ignore the magnitude of the problem of employee absenteeism and accidents. They look only at historical data, and lump it all under “the cost of doing business.” The best leaders use data and analytics to identify key offenders to continually reduce these problems.
  6. Failure to factor in new employee ‘time-to-performance’. According to data from recent statistics, it typically takes eight months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity, and that doesn’t include hiring. Through analytics on current employees, you will be able to predict re-training requirements and minimize employee turnover.
  7. Waiting to hire until the business is in crisis mode. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to fall into the trap of focusing only on what’s urgent and leaving aside what seems merely important. The solution is to plan ahead by using data analysis tools with predictive indicators. Trying to hurry the hiring process is a key reason for bad hires in business.

Most companies I know will claim to be busy collecting and analyzing data, but very few actually use it to drive people management. Integrating the analytics of people management with business results is key to driving a winning strategy and long-term sustainability in today’s competitive and rapidly changing environment. These should not be seen as two separate efforts.

I often have to remind entrepreneurs that good products are built with the best technology, but good businesses are built with the best people. Great business leaders have figured out how to apply the right attention, time, and tools to both. Where are you along this spectrum?

Original article available here: