By Alex Yastrebenetsky, CEO of InfoTrust and member of EO Cincinnati
Alex Yastrebenetsky is an EO member in Cincinnati, Ohio, and founder of InfoTrust, an award-winning digital analytics consulting and technology company helping marketers use data to make smarter decisions. As the leader of a company that focuses on giving back to the community as its “why,” we asked Alex how he recognizes America’s National Working Parents Day and supports working parents every day. Here’s what he shared.
It’s ironic that National Working Parents Day, observed annually on 16 September, falls on a weekend this year. It’s a day to pay tribute to the parents who work so hard to provide for their families. Any working adult with a child can certainly understand and sympathize with how difficult it can be to strike a healthy equilibrium between the demands of working and parenting.
In our offices, this topic has led to a healthy discussion about the challenges working parents face and what the most effective tools are that we can offer to create a supportive work environment.
In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, among married couples with children, 96.9 percent of households had at least one employed parent, while in 61.9 percent of such families, both parents were employed. In response to these high statistics and the record low unemployment rate, more and more companies want to know what it takes to retain and engage employees who are parents.
Does your company do enough to support working parents? Explore four key factors in this article on EO’s Inc. channel.
I’m one such employer who wants to ensure that my employees are highly engaged and productive. As we fine tune our benefits package, we talk with employees about what works and what hasn’t worked in the past—which has made me a firm believer that unique benefits help retain top talent.
Here’s what we’ve learned:
Work-life balance can be a dealbreaker
Karina Agabekyan, head of the InfoTrust Foundation, offers first-hand insight about changes that would be helpful to parents tackling the dual roles of growing a family while pursuing a career.
For a previous employer, Karina successfully managed a program that surpassed growth expectations for two years—and then she started a family. During her first pregnancy, gaps in what she hoped would be a supportive work environment began to show. Flexibility to attend all of her necessary medical appointments proved challenging, or rather, nonexistent. To avoid taking unpaid time off, Karina worked right up until her due date, leaving little time to prepare for the arrival of her first child. Her maternity leave was, in fact, a short-term disability leave lasting only six weeks and only paid at 60 percent of her salary.
Upon returning to work as a new parent, Karina faced unexpected challenges that hadn’t seemed insurmountable before having a child:
- Though the company offered additional training sessions as a perk, they were scheduled during evening hours rather than between 9 am and 5 pm.
- Without a dedicated, private space for pumping breastmilk, Karina had no choice but to do so in a server room or a supply closet that lacked privacy; and had to store her milk supply in the company refrigerator next to her coworkers’ lunches.
- Because she worked for a global company, she was often expected to participate in last-minute business trips and late-night phone calls.
Karina, now the mother of three, clearly recalls the moment she knew it was time to move on: “On that particular day, my meetings had started at 5:30 am. It was nearly 8 pm, and I was still on the phone,” she says. “That’s when I noticed my youngest child leaning her forehead on the glass door to my office, looking for me.
“No job in the world is worth missing irreplaceable moments spent with our kids, families and loved ones. Work-life balance is so important, and I had none. I resigned the next day.”
It’s not just new parents who need extra support
A working parent’s job doesn’t stop when diaper duty ends. As children grow, so do extracurricular activities and academic expectations. And don’t forget about other caregivers who garner special consideration: Adoptive parents know how daunting the journey to parenthood can be; having a supportive workplace can make a huge difference. Parents of special needs children may require a more personalized type of support from employers.
Also of note: The growing population of employees assuming the role of caregiver for aging parents. All of these roles are unique, but each requires individualized understanding from their employer.
Trisha Carle works in the neonatal intensive care unit at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati and is the mother of active teenagers. “I definitely feel it is even harder to be a working parent and meet the expectations of my boys’ schedules now that they are older,” she says.
Trisha made the harrowing decision to leave a previous employer due to a common issue: A rigid policy that lacked flexibility in working hours and time out of the office. Trisha often skipped lunch to attend medical appointments or school meetings. She was running in circles and unable to achieve the quality of life she wanted.
Trisha attributes her success in her current role to having more control over her schedule. She’s grateful for the flexibility to attend school and sporting events and be present for her children. As a result, she’s even more productive in her role during working hours. Trisha also appreciates her coworkers. “We work together as an integral team and cover for each other when necessary. I wish every potential employee had a chance to meet the team they’d be working with before deciding whether to join a company.”
Extreme benefits can lead to extreme employee engagement
At InfoTrust, we know that technology is not what makes us great—our employees do! We are always discussing and implementing ways to support a healthy family-work balance for our team members.
We started with our parental leave policy, which is 12 weeks of fully paid maternity and paternity time off followed by 12 weeks at a reduced work schedule. Our team even joined together to create a private pumping room for new moms. We offer unlimited PTO—because life happens, especially when you’re a parent. We bring in lunch for all employees working in the office each day to foster teambuilding and make everyone’s life a little easier. We also schedule on-site training at reasonable hours during the workweek, so everybody has a chance to enhance their careers.
Jennifer Snowden, InfoTrust employee and mother of three, feels grateful for the support she has received from her work family. “From offering 12 weeks paid maternity and paternity leave to flexible hours, a ‘you do you’ as long as you get your work done approach, plus one Friday off per month in the summer so employees can spend time with their families, InfoTrust has thought of everything to support working parents,” she says. “No other company I have worked for has ever provided such comprehensive support.”
“This unusual approach has allowed me to be fully engaged and productive when I am at work, knowing if something unexpected does come up, InfoTrust will work with me to make sure both my family, and my job are taken care of,” Jennifer explains.
Still unsure about the ROI of extreme benefits? In addition to being a great recruiting tool to attract top talent to your organization, workers with a good work-life balance have been reported to work 21 percent harder than employees without that balance.
According to SHRM, highly engaged employees are more productive and more likely to stay with a company long-term, which translates to lower employee rollover costs. Considering the exorbitant cost of employee turnover—some research estimates that it can cost up to 60 percent of an employee’s annual salary to recruit, hire, onboard and train their replacement—by offering great benefits and a company culture that supports working parents, you’re actually both doing a great thing for your employees and their families and benefitting your business bottom line. Win-win!
As a global organization comitted to engaging the world’s entrepreneurs, EO believes learning in your professional life can also enrich in your personal and family life. Learn more about the EO experience, and how to apply.