"Parental leave is about much more than recovering from a medical event. It's about bonding with a new child – and that goes for fathers as well as mothers," said Deepa Purushothaman, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and national managing principal of Deloitte's Women's Initiative. "Many employees, male and female, are coming to expect the flexibility to support caregiving and family needs, and employers can help by ensuring their people are not stuck deciding between their job and family."
Importance of Both Flexibility and Equality
In addition to flexibility, respondents indicated concern for equality as it relates to parental leave. An overwhelming majority of the workers surveyed – 64 percent – say that companies should offer men and women the same amount of parental leave. More than half of respondents (54 percent), however, feel their colleagues would judge a father who took the same amount of parental leave as a mother – potentially indicating a reinforcement of stereotypical gender norms.
Priorities Made Clear
Serving as an indication of how vital parental leave is, respondents also said that a strong parental leave policy was more important to them than many of the qualities people often value in a job: 50 percent said that they would rather have more parental leave than a pay raise. Some said strong parental leave is more important than having a better boss (8 percent), a better title (6 percent), or a shorter commute (4 percent).
Not Just Leave, But Broader Caregiving, Too
The survey also found that nearly nine in ten respondents (88%) would value their organizations expanding leave policies to include family care beyond parental leave. This potentially reflects the added pressure that lesser known family needs – such as caring for elderly parents or ailing spouses put on an employee's ability to manage their obligations at work and at home.
With 77 percent of respondents indicating that the amount of parental leave offered by an employer has at least a little sway on their decision when choosing one company over another, these findings likely speak to the need for organizations to look closely at what they offer.
"While parental leave is important, it's just one facet of the larger issue of work and well-being," said Mike Preston, Deloitte's chief talent officer. "Benefits are great, but work environment matters just as much. Businesses need to cultivate a culture where people feel comfortable doing what it takes to be their best selves and honor their priorities – at work and at home."
About the Parental Leave pulse survey
Deloitte's Parental Leave pulse survey was conducted by KRC Research to understand how employees view and value parental leave at their organization. The survey was conducted via an online poll of 1,000 employed (at least part time) adults with access to employer benefits, residing in the United States, from May 16–20, 2016
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