Today on the Mindful Return blog, we’re talking about how to improve parental leave policies at your company.  Why do it?  How to do it?  And how to start that conversation with your company, if you’re an employee who’s wanting more in this department. 

I’m delighted to be joined by Alex Deckard of Aeroflow Healthcare.  Aeroflow recently went through a process of revamping the company’s leave policies, and Alex is here to tell us how they did it.

As the company’s webpage notes, the evolution of their policy, like many out there, is a work in progress.  (As a next step, I’d urge them to make their paid leave policy gender neutral!) 

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Aeroflow Healthcare, a leading provider of durable medical equipment (DME) (including breast pumps!), recently expanded its parental leave policy. Looking to better reflect the importance of family, this progressive policy includes new benefits such as:

  • Increasing paid maternity leave from two (2) weeks to six (6) weeks (can be used flexibly)
  • Company match of adoption-related expenses (50% of costs up to $5,000)
  • $300 reimbursement for birth or postpartum doula
  • Free breast pump and breastfeeding supplies
  • 1 year subscription to the “Diaper Club” (i.e. free diapers for a year!)

Not only does this new policy support our employees, but also it can serve as an example for other companies interested in improving their parental leave policies.

 Why We Did It

The new policy reflects Aeroflow’s commitment to the 3Cs – customers, coworkers, and community – and every strategic decision made by our company is checked against these standards.

The new policy offers more support for our coworkers.  And the additional benefits and extended paid maternity leave allow families the needed time to focus on their new baby.

Aeroflow’s commitment to customers starts with its employees. Improved maternity leave and lactation support (like a dedicated, private pumping room) help our employees to be more successful in their roles, and they, in turn, can better support our customers. The Business Case for Breastfeeding illuminates three benefits that help Aeroflow support customers:

  • Greater retention of experienced employees;
  • Reduction in sick time taken by both moms and dads for children’s illnesses; and
  • Improved employee productivity and loyalty.

It also reflects Aeroflow Breastpumps’ mission, to increase the instances of breastfeeding nationally. Generally, breastfeeding leads to healthier moms and babies. 81% of mothers report ever breastfeeding, but 51% of moms are still breastfeeding at 6 months. The longer a mother waits to return to work, the more likely she is to continuing breastfeeding.

“As a leader in the healthcare industry and DME space, and through our work with hundreds of thousands of new and expecting moms, Aeroflow understands firsthand the importance of giving families the time, resources and support needed to bond with new children – whether adopted or biological,” said Casey Hite, founder and CEO of Aeroflow Healthcare. “We believe it is our responsibility to set a strong example for other businesses in North Carolina and throughout the country, and this announcement represents just the first step in the company’s efforts to expand maternity and parental paid leave and better support employees and their families.”

How We Did It

To start, members of the Aeroflow human resources (HR) department attended seminars about breastfeeding and paid parental/maternity leave and learned the connection between increased breastfeeding and paid time off.  From there, members of HR had conversations with expectant mothers, to determine what would help them and what they have seen in regards to specific benefits.

When the policy was being written, HR researched other companies with similar benefits.  From there, Aeroflow crafted a policy that provides better benefits to employees and promotes breastfeeding.  For many companies, Aeroflow discovered, these types of family benefits are not the norm.

Ideally, every company would offer at least twelve weeks paid time off for all parents. But, as a small growing company (just over 300 employees), Aeroflow made the decision that it could sustainably provide six (6) weeks paid maternity leave, and two (2) weeks paid parental leave. One of the biggest concerns was making sure the employees’ responsibilities were covered while they were on leave.

Aeroflow also decided to supplement its increased leave policy with other creative family-friendly benefits. Because a doula improves birth outcomes and helps establish early breastfeeding, the new policy includes reimbursement for doula services. As a durable medical equipment supplier, Aeroflow has cost benefits to be able to offer a year of free diapers and a free breast pump.

Advice to Expecting Employees

If you are an employee and want to start the conversation about improving your company’s parental leave policies, there are some great resources available. The Paid Leave Project, for example, has tools to help design, persuade, and implement a parental leave policy.

Allyson Downey, author of Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood, suggests these talking points to start the conversation about family leave at your job:

  • Being family-friendly and offering flexibility will increase employee engagement and productivity;
  • If we talk about family leave, the media will talk about us; and
  • Other companies have run the cost-benefit analysis, and they’ve found great ROI on paid family leave.

Improved parental leave is good for everyone and helps employees with children to be more engaged and productive. The Boston Consulting Group reviewed the parental leave policies of more than 250 companies and interviewed 25 HR leaders, and found employers see a solid business case for offering paid family leave. These benefits include improved talent retention and attraction, and their own ability to manage the costs of the program through thoughtful policy design.

For more information about the process Aeroflow went through in updating the company’s leave policies, feel free to reach out to Alex Deckard at alex.deckard@aeroflowinc.com.

Alex Deckard is the SEO Specialist at Aeroflow Healthcare. He helps the right people know how Aeroflow can help them. As a dad to one, he is excited about how the new Aeroflow policies will help new and expecting parents navigate working and parenting.

 

 

Back to Work After BabyWant help with your own transition back to work after parental leave?  Join new working moms in the next session of the Mindful Return Maternity Leave Course.  Join new working dads in the next session of the Mindful Return Paternity Leave Course.

Need a template maternity leave plan to communicate with your manager about your upcoming leave?  Mindful Return has you covered, here.

Want more practical tips on working parenthood?  Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave.  

 

 

 

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