For many women entering the workforce, businesses that provide family-forward maternity benefits to better align with the employee’s maternity goals are increasingly attractive.
By supplying mothers with provisions that allow them to maintain their breastfeeding goals, along with the proper time to heal during the postpartum period, businesses can reduce healthcare costs and turnover rates while improving morale.
Additionally, by easing the employee’s transition back to work after giving birth, businesses are able to attract and retain motivated talented employees, and often benefit from savings of $3 for every $1 spent on implementing a supportive maternity plan.
Supporting Working Moms
It’s important to note that along with supporting working mothers, modern maternity benefits improve workplace positivity and decrease turnover rates when provided to men as well. Furthermore, businesses only need to make slight, cost-effective changes in order to increase employee satisfaction and generate savings.
By reviewing the current parental leave policy and making simple adjustments to expand benefits, employers can quickly see increased employee loyalty and healthcare savings.
When Cigna launched its supportive breastfeeding plan it experienced:
- Annual savings of $240,000 in the form of reduced healthcare expenses for breastfeeding mothers and children.
- A 62% decrease in prescriptions resulting in reduced pharmacy costs.
- A 77% reduction in lost work due to having to care for sick infants, saving $60,000 annually.
The Los Angeles Department of Water And Power also launched a supportive breastfeeding program and realized the following benefits:
- A 35% reduction in healthcare claims.
- An 83% increase in positivity about the employer.
- A 27% reduction in absenteeism rates.
After implementing measures to support working moms, Home Depot:
- Reduced its employee absenteeism rate from the national average of missing nine days of work due to caring for a sick infant down to only three.
- Increased employee satisfaction.
- Generated annual savings of $42,000 due to lowered absenteeism rates.
Serving as a source of trust and understanding for employees as they grow their families will quickly improve workplace positivity, production and help generate cost savings as healthcare bills and turnover rates decrease.
Implementing Parental Leave
Even taking small steps toward improving parental benefits can lead to positive business impacts. When crafting your own internal policy, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
Six Weeks Maternity leave
Giving birth places a significant amount of stress on a mother’s body, and it takes about six weeks on average for a new mother to physically recover. During the postpartum period, mothers face bleeding, swelling and soreness that can make it difficult, painful, and exhausting to return to work.
Even though partners don’t physically give birth, there is still considerable adjustment when welcoming an infant into their homes. Throughout the night, new parents are often awoken for feeding, diaper changes, and to soothe sleepless infants.
By having time at home during parental leave, partners are able to intimately bond with their new child and share in the additional responsibilities at home.
When surveyed, 47% of working moms considered making a career change due to the need for breast pumping at work and 49% were concerned that breast pumping would impact their career growth.
Many mothers would like to breast pump in order to provide breast milk for their infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk because of the health benefits provided for both mothers and their infants. While breastfeeding, the healing hormone oxytocin is released.
Oxytocin is shown to help moms heal faster by reducing bleeding and by assisting the uterus to more quickly contract to its regular size. This can reduce postpartum recovery time and allow mothers to potentially return to work sooner.
Breast milk is essentially liquid gold for infants, as it contains naturally occurring nutrients such as proteins, enzymes and antibodies to boost the immune system. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing allergies, eczema, diarrhea, infections and more. On average, breastfed babies tend to be healthier.
Having breast milk available also allows a partner to help more at feeding time. Plus, partners are often able to experience deeper bonding during feedings with skin-to-skin contact and the ability to learn their infant’s unique noises and body language.
To provide mothers with the ability to breast pump at work, all you need is:
- A private room free from the intrusion of the public or coworkers.
- A chair to relax in.
- Access to running water for sanitation.
- A microwave for cleaning and disinfecting breast pump parts and accessories.
- A surface to place breast pumps and accessories on.
- A mini fridge for breast milk storage that is separate from where employees place their lunches.
Breastfeeding or pumping isn’t always the easiest topic to discuss in the workplace. Be open and understanding to new or expectant parents. Approach them to discover what they need and be approachable to allow them to come to you with any questions or concerns.
Recognize that breast pumping mothers will need to express breast milk every few hours for about 20 minutes depending on their infant’s feeding schedule. Work with them to meet their individual needs.
Realize that the transition back to work after welcoming a baby into the home isn’t easy. Parents are exhausted and often emotional due to missing their child. Allow them to readjust to their normal workload over a few days and work from home, if applicable.
The ROI companies experience after beginning to support working parents is undeniable and with only a few simple steps, employers are able to support their parents and gain immense benefits.