In the news today is the unfortunate fact that many companies are cutting parental leave. Troubling numbers from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) show that the number of employers offering paid maternity leave beyond what the law requires has dropped from 53% in 2020 to only 35% now. For paid paternity leave, the number has gone from 44% in 2020 to just 27%. This is exactly the wrong way to go. It would be the wrong direction in a good economic climate, and it’s even worse in a tough economic climate. It’s in challenging times that employers need to double down on employee well-being and mental health — of which paid parental leave is an essential part.
That was exactly the reason why Thrive teamed up with SHRM in June for a full-page ad in The New York Times to bring together companies in a pledge to continue prioritizing their employees’ mental health and well-being through the turbulent times that lie ahead.
Research shows that up to one in seven women may experience postpartum depression in the year after giving birth. The numbers dramatically increased during the pandemic, to one in three. Yet, parenthood can be an incredible time of wonder, joy and connection. And it’s why companies have a responsibility to give new parents the time they need to enter into this new stage in their lives — and that means doubling down on their commitment to parental leave. Especially since study after study shows that mothers (and babies) fare much better when they have sufficient paid time off after giving birth.
Offering generous parental leave is also a powerful recruitment and retention tool. So both the right thing to do and the right business strategy.
There are also small things new parents can do to improve their well-being. Here’s a video I love from Thriving Parenthood, hosted by Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, featuring new moms talking about one of the biggest challenges they’ve faced on their journey: prioritizing sleep.
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