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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Author(s)

  • Arianna Huffington

    Founder & CEO of Thrive

    Arianna Huffington is the founder and CEO of Thrive, the founder of The Huffington Post, and the author of 15 books, including Thrive and The Sleep Revolution. In 2016, she launched Thrive, a leading behavior change tech company with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success. She has been named to Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union. She serves on numerous boards, including Onex and The B Team. Her last two books, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time, both became instant international bestsellers. Most recently, she wrote the foreword to Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-being, and Unlock Your Full Potential with the New Science of Microsteps.