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Expanding Parental Leave as a Recruiting and Retention Tool

By May 16, 2023October 19th, 2023No Comments

Nonprofit sector employees operate with a different set of values than those in the private or public sectors. Because most nonprofit employees see work as both a means to provide for themselves as well as a way to assist with the nonprofit’s mission, they are sometimes willing to work for less competitive salaries or benefits if they believe in the value of their work. However, finding people who share these commitments to join your team can be a challenge, which makes retaining staff critical both for the cohesion of your team and to avoid the costs of continually sourcing and hiring replacement staff. 

An issue gaining increasing attention in the U.S. is the question of parental leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 requires entities that employ 50 or more people to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new parents. Although it is a requirement in some states, the U.S. is the only developed country to not have a federal requirement for paid family leave, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Pressure is mounting to rectify this issue, as is awareness about the many benefits of paid family leave for employees, their children, and their employers.

Some nonprofits have learned that going beyond the federal standard and offering paid leave, job flexibility, and other benefits actually helps them. Here are some of the key benefits of a more robust parental leave policy:

Shows investment and care for your staff

The most obvious benefit to a paid leave policy is that it shows both a financial and personal investment in the well-being of your staff. Having a child can be an incredibly stressful experience, and for employees of entities that do not offer paid leave, the prospect of 12 weeks of unpaid work is untenable. 

From an organizational perspective, losing a staff member for any period can be financially difficult, but many advocates say that it can prove cost-neutral because having a paid leave policy and work flexibility helps with staff retention. If you can show an investment in your staff by offering this policy, you not only make your nonprofit a more attractive place for new hires, but you also provide an incentive for current employees to stay. 

In addition to parental leave, the advent of remote work technologies enables you to offer more flexible work scheduling, part- or full-time remote work, and other options. If a new parent is able to work remotely or does not need to complete their work during traditional work hours, you can work with them to set up flexible work scheduling that accommodates their parental obligations. 

Helps new parents avoid burnout

Employers that offer paid family leave policies do so because they are adamant that it helps everyone involved. Google increased paid leave and experienced a 50% decrease in new mothers leaving the company, which not only helped new parents but also ended up saving Google money. Although your nonprofit might not have the resources of Google, it’s important to consider the long-term impacts of high employee turnover. After California instituted a mandatory paid family leave policy, a majority (91%) of employers in a survey reported benefits to employee productivity, company profitability, and staff morale. 

These numbers illustrate the value of a parental leave policy. Although the restructuring necessary to accommodate new parents may seem daunting, giving them the opportunity to spend time with their newborn without worrying about work is better for your nonprofit.

Enables you to stand out from the competition in all sectors

Despite mounting awareness and pressure on companies to adopt some form of parental leave, the exceptions to the FMLA — including excluding companies of fewer than 50 people, which make up 40% of all companies — mean that only 20% of American workers benefit from paid parental leave. 

Because you may not have the financial resources of large, private-sector companies, offering parental leave in addition to some work flexibility can be a very effective tool to recruit and retain talented employees. For mission-driven nonprofits, this gives you a distinct advantage over 80% of other employers and also encourages new hires to view working at your nonprofit as a long-term home rather than a career stepping stone. 

Helps to create a diverse workplace and inclusive culture

An increasing number of studies have shown that having generous and gender-neutral parental leave is an effective tool to build a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Because childcare is traditionally provided by mothers, companies that offer little to no paid leave often see female employees greatly reduce their hours or leave the workforce entirely after having a child. However, allowing parents of all genders to benefit from paid leave has been shown to reduce this and also close the gender wage gap. 

According to a University of Virginia study, mothers who took leave were 6% more likely to remain working a year later. A U.S. Federal Reserve study also showed strong evidence that family leave that goes beyond federal requirements is an effective tool for creating pay parity between male and non-male workers. Research has also shown that women of color do not have the same level of access to paid leave as white women. 

By offering a parental leave and work flexibility policy that exceeds the federal rules and industry benchmarks, you can help create a workplace that is more inclusive of non-male, non-white employees.

501(c) Services can help you focus on the work that matters most

At 501(c) Services, we are intimately familiar with the challenges nonprofits like yours face when trying to hire and retain talent. That’s why we started our company. We work to help nonprofits maximize their resources to do the best work possible and further their mission. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you build a successful, sustainable nonprofit, please reach out to us.

(Image by Pexels from Pixabay)

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