You’ve done everything you can to ensure generous parental leave for your employees — but what happens when they come back? Are your return-to-work policies and benefits for parents as generous?
If not, keep an eye on your retention: A prime time to look for a new job is right after having a first child. According to survey data from child care company Bright Horizons, 59 percent of new parents report wanting to change employers after the birth of their little one. Money isn’t the motivator, though. According to the study, about 1 in 2 parents actually took a pay cut so that they could have a more family-friendly job.
So how can you prevent that jump-ship mentality from reaching your workplace? Aside from flexible hours, remote work options and subsidized or on-site child care, there’s one other benefit that can attract good talent and make their post-leave return more seamless: connecting new parents with specialists.
After all, a pediatrician alone won’t cut it for many new parents. There are plenty of resources families can — and likely want to — take advantage of as they welcome a new baby.
1. Lactation Specialists
Beyond simply providing new moms a place to express breast milk as required by federal law, take it one step further with paid benefits or referral resources for lactation specialists. Trained lactation consultants and coaches can help nursing mothers move past obstacles like latching that can impede breastfeeding goals (which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60 percent of mothers don’t meet).
2. Postpartum Therapists
Up to 1 in 7 new moms have postpartum depression, according to the American Psychological Association. The condition is so prevalent that many counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists specialize their practice on perinatal conditions. Connecting new parents to those services could make all the difference — not only for your employees’ mental well-being, but for your bottom line, too: Happy workers are productive workers.
3. Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists
While many people associate the term “doula” with a birth coach, doulas aren’t just for the delivery room. Postpartum doulas provide at-home services for infant care, emotional support and household tasks like laundry, housekeeping and meal prep. Often, these specialists charge by the hour, so a creative benefits package might include a certain number of postpartum doula hours, giving employees extra help when returning to work after maternity or paternity leave.
Similar to a doula, a newborn care specialist offers support for infant care, including helping to establish sleep routines — something many new parents are likely to appreciate upon their return to work.
4. Special Needs Professionals
In cases of premature births or infants born with congenital issues or other disabilities, special needs professionals might include night nurses, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and more. Subsidized care from these experts can help ease the transition back to work without putting cost burdens on employees’ shoulders.
Putting It Into Action
So what’s the best way to include specialist access in benefits packages? Some employers opt for concierge services that connect new parents with the experts they need when they need them. In December 2018, Forbes reported that one bank found that women who participated in a maternity concierge program were 25 percent more likely to stay with the company when returning to work after maternity leave. Other employers may opt instead to subsidize those services directly or even foot the bill entirely, like American Express’s 24-hour lactation specialist support perk.
Or better still: Ask your insurer how you can get these types of specialist services included in your health plan, from expanded mental health coverage to more comprehensive postpartum benefits. Some providers, like physicians or psychologists who specialize in perinatal needs, may be more likely to be covered than others, like doulas, who aren’t licensed health care professionals. But even doula expenses can qualify for reimbursement through flexible spending or health savings accounts, so take the time to learn all your options.
Not sure which specialists your employees might like help accessing? Ask them what they’d like to see. One or two well-chosen benefits could make a bigger mark on your retention than 10 benefits none of your employees have any interest in using. Consider your staff: Are many of them of childbearing age? Would they appreciate those kinds of benefits? Are they likely to leave you for competitors who offer them?
Regardless of how you shape return-to-work benefits for parents, giving employees some access to these specialists could go a long way in not only attracting new talent but also retaining them after baby comes.
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