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Why Companies Should Value Parental Leave (For Both Men And Women)

Why Companies Should Value Parental Leave (For Both Men And Women)

My recollection of requesting parental leave was nothing short of a nightmare. There were lots of forms and paperwork to go through–not to mention the amount of planning, preparing, budgeting and coordinating efforts for the arrival of a newborn. Plus it is a stressful situation and conversation to have when you approach the company’s Human Resources (HR) department or manager in charge to request parental leave.

Depending on your professional track record, the company you work for and length of time you are requesting, the level of apprehension about requesting a leave of absence naturally skyrockets.

Parental leave is one of the crucial and pivotal moments for practically new or existing parents to deal with. Why? There are layers and layers of complications when it comes to trying to balance family and work life.

When it comes to accommodating paid leave there are a couple of harsh realities hitting the workforce at the present time. According to the Department of Labor (DOL) just 12 percent of United States (U.S) private sector workers have access to paid family leave through the company they are employed.

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Evidently taking time off from work means loss of income. What ends up happening is too many workers cannot afford to be on parental leave and cut it short. So the pressures not only mount at work to make up for lost time, but also disrupts your time with family, which becomes a whole other issue.

Benefits and advantages of paid leave

Once an employee has proven his place and worthiness within a company, independent of size, they should be entitled to parental paid leave. This is not a matter of economics or number of hours he or she has accrued. It is about the well-being of parents and maximizing their living conditions.

This can be done in a number of ways. When we reserve enough resources for a parental leave request through a company you will retain your best and most talented in the company, while at same time eliminate the risk of turnover. According to a CIO Magazine analysis, when companies adopt a parental leave policy the work options for parents lead to higher employee engagement and retention.

In both cases, paid paternity and maternity leave brings with it numerous and favorable payoffs. Below is a list of the positive effects of paid leave asserted by the DOL:

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  • Maternity leave overall improves the child´s health outcomes and increased birthweight.
  • Leave decreases premature birth and decreased infant mortality.
  • Paid leave encourages men to take paternity leave and serve as good caregivers.
  • Paid maternity leave increases work retention and reduces retention.
  • Paid paternity leave encourages men to be better caregivers.

It is essential for the current employee workforce to have the conditions and financial support for parental or maternal leave. This will not only help parents, but companies will reduce expenses for training and hiring new staff. Currently states like Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut and various cities have passed legislation for paid family and medical leave.

Parental paid benefits around the globe

Parental employment benefits outside of the U.S is a different narrative altogether. A visual graphic on Visual.ly paints a picture of the top countries for maternity and paternity leave, including the nations with the least amount of days to take leave.

So who are the countries with the top rank for parental (maternity) leave? They are as follows, including the maximum length of leave (days):

  • Croatia  (406 days)
  • Albania (365 days)
  • Australia (365 days)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (365 days)
  • Montenegro (365 days)
  • Serbia (365 days)
  • UK (365 days)
  • Norway (322 days)

On the other hand, here are the 10 worst countries when it comes to maternity leave:

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  • United States (84 days)
  • Lesotho (84 days)
  • Swaziland (84 days)
  • Nepal (84 days)
  • Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (50 days)
  • Qatar (50 days)

The paternity paid leave length for men is far less in comparison. For the top 10 countries for paternity leave you have Iceland (91 days), Norway (70 days), Spain (28), Finland (18 days), Slovenia (15 days), Azerbaijan (14 days) and others.

Momentum has shifted since legislation began promoting and advocating parental leave. Between 1994 and 2013 countries that provided at least 14 weeks of maternity leave increased from 38 to 51 percent. Up until last year, eight countries offer incentives to encourage new fathers to take parental leave.

Takeaways and conclusion

As the 21st century continues to be flooded with innovation and technological tools for the workplace, progress must be made primarily with regards to parental policies before anything else. Legislative action must introduce and approve the ability to really tackle the harsh reality and financial burdens of parental leave. Otherwise you are forcing people to improvise on their own without any sort of support during these important personal events. One natural consequence is this will lead to and perhaps discourage young professionals from starting families.

From coast to coast in the U.S things have begun to change. In a detailed news report by the New York Times corporations are shifting to more family-friendly benefits. For example, companies for Accenture and Microsoft would be implementing generous parental leave rules. The tech streaming giant, Netflix, recently instituted a full paid leave measure for new mothers and fathers for up to 365 days.

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Still there is much work to be done. Drafting company policies tailored towards new parents will strengthen the families, balance work and family life, allow for a full recovery and better control of finances.

Featured photo credit: Winter Day 10 – Seeking balance/lisaclarke via flickr.com

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Anthony Carranza

Multilingual writer and journalist covering all things technology and productivity.

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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