What Startups Should Learn from Technology Leaders on Their Paid Family Leave Policy

As I sit here pregnant with my second child, it’s hard to imagine working for a firm without a fantastic paid family leave policy. I’m grateful to work for a firm that values its employees above all else and has allowed me the flexibility I need for doctor’s appointments, daycare registration and the ability to work remote when needed. But not everyone is in my position. A 2017 survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 13% of private industry employees had access to paid family leave through their employer.

As a member of the Talent Team here at OpenView, I work closely with our portfolio leaders and have found that one of the major drivers in attracting top talent are the benefits. Startups are known for their younger demographics and, many times, put paid family leave on the back burner or a “nice to have” benefit and instead focus on free lunches, foosball tables and cold beer in the fridge.

But a strong paid family leave is crucial to the health of any startup, especially in the earliest stage, for several reasons.

  1. Employee retention. Your young employees will want to stay with your startup and know that there are benefits in place that will help them grow.
  2. The ability to recruit at both ends of the spectrum. This means you’re able to recruit out of a larger talent pool.

I suggest that our portfolio (and any startup) look to the leaders in tech to assess their benefits, especially for their paid family leave policy.

Technology is the leader in family leave benefits

Technology companies have redefined the parental leave from lengthy paid leave to adoption assistance subsidies. The common theme within these technology companies is to keep their top talent from within their full-time employees, part-time employees and contractors.

Netflix has made a huge splash by offering a full year of paid time off for both mothers and fathers. This is a benefit for both full-time and part-time employees.

Amazon offers a birth parent 20 weeks paid family leave which can also include 4 weeks prior to the birth. Amazon lets parents donate up to 6 weeks of their leave to their partner. Amazon offers benefits to both full-time, part-time and contract employees.

Microsoft offers 22 weeks of paid family leave that is equal leave for full-time employees and contractors. Microsoft will also cover the shipping of refrigerated breast milk home while employees are traveling for business.

As mentioned before, startups are filled with younger employees. By 2020, Millennials are forecasted to comprise half of the American workforce. Within that workforce, about 20% of Millennial women are having children, so keeping that talent in your organization is crucial. A strong paid family leave policy sets the standards for how female employees are treated. As a mother, I feel like a valuable asset to my firm.

When I come back from my maternity leave (and I will come back, like most Millennial women), I’m happy to have the ability to be a good mom and a good employee. Being a working mom is all about balance which includes:

      • Nursing while at work, if you choose to do so.
      • Having a Mother’s Room or Wellness Room. This is a private and designated space to nurse while in the office and a great addition to any office.
      • Flexible hours and/or the ability to work from home. I pick up my son from daycare each day and having the flexibility to leave at 4 pm has been a lifesaver.

I know some working moms and moms-to-be are not as lucky as I am, but with companies like Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft making a concerted effort to have equal paid leave be a benefit to all, I am hopeful the needle is moving in the right direction for everyone else.

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