Flexing to Avoid Flight

How Some Companies Nail the Parental On-ramp Challenge



Paid parental leave has been the topic du jour of 2015, but we can’t miss the point that parental return is the real make it or break it point–for employers and employees. At the It’s Working Project, we are committed to helping new parents get back to work with ease, as a matter of course, and with a sense of pride. As we’ve learned from listening to new parents through our Portrait Project, where parents chronicle their back-to-work after baby experiences (or their back out of the workforce experiences in some cases), flexibility is the one key factor that makes for a successful return.

Flexibility is the thing our struggling parents have told us they want most, and what our thriving parents have credited as pivotal to their successful return. And the companies we are talking to about ways to better attract, retain, and engage top parental talent are all ears when it comes to flexibility, too. An amazingly common reaction we hear from employers is not questioning, “Why?” when it comes to creating more flexibility, but inquisitively and earnestly asking, “How?!”

The It’s Working Project is proud to be taking the lead in showing the private sector how to execute this on the granular level, while at the same time building a strong corporate culture that supports it: gradual on-ramping, flexible hours, and the ability to work remotely. These low-cost, high-return benefits demonstrate that an employer is committed to making it work and go a long way toward ensuring that great employees stay happy and stay on.

Mom, Amy O’Brien, who works for the Denver Nuggets, attributes her parental return success to a flexible and supportive office, where she was able to work from home two days a week. As does dad, Mike Schaffer Vice President, Digital Corporate Reputation, Edelman, who says, ”My managers at the time of each child’s birth were wonderful in supporting me and clearing the way for me to take as much time as possible.”

As pleased as we are when we hear stories from parents who feel like they have won the “boss lottery,” it’s important to us at the It’s Working Project to shift the focus from single, supportive individuals to wholly supportive organizations. This is why we are focused on helping to create smoother off- and on-ramping via cultural shifts that permeate the whole of an organization. As mom Rachel Sobel points out, ““Be flexible. But really flexible. Not the kind of flexible where you offer work from home days or modified schedules that come with sideways glances and resentment.”

If you’re a parent who’s making it work, or who thinks it could be working better, share your story, lend your voice, and help affect positive change in the private sector when it comes to parental leave and return. You can submit your story online, or contact an editor on our team through our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages–we’re flexible!


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