I Cannot, but IKEA Can

I cannot assemble even one thing from IKEA.

IKEA on the other hand has built something remarkable.

They have taken a bold move, made a real-time investment in their workforce and continued their commentment to parents. They join a small handful of organizations that listened well enough to create meaningful change, making a long-term investment in workers and in partiucalar, families.

IKEA space for family via Mommodesign.com

As of January 1, IKEA will offer it’s 14,000 salaried and hourly workers in the U.S. up to four months of paid parental leave. The policy applies to mothers and fathers who are birth, adoptive, or foster parents, and it expands on Ikea’s previous policy that gave fives days of paid leave to new parents, plus up to eight weeks of paid disability leave for new moms, according to the Associated Press.

Lars Petersson, president of Ikea’s U.S. division, told The Associated Press the parental leave expansion will give employees a better feeling about the workplace and will mean better service to customers.

“We want them to take time off,” he said. “The home is our arena. We think the home is the most important place for people.” Petersson has really nailed it.

But this did not happen overnight. And that is the impressive part. IKEA started in 2015 by making a clear and honest commitment to raising the quality of employee experience. They did not do any of this quickly, and that is the admirable part. They took their time. They listened.

What did they hear? They heard about wages. They heard about the challenges of inconsistent scheudles on all workers and especially those with families and/or second jobs.

In 2015 they began to raise minimum hourly pay to align with local living wages. This was remarkable in more than half of their workers received an immediate pay bump. In 2016 they raised wages again. At this point hourly workers at IKEA make over $15 an hour.

Additionally, they made a commitment to offering store workers more consistent (now employees can know what to expect) and even fuller schedules (possibily resulting in less of a need for second or third jobs). According to the Wall Street Journal, Three-quarters of employees now work more than 20 hours a week, up from 66% in 2013.

All now parental leave — the jewel in the crown —

According to Fortune, The new policy is remarkable in that it treats salaried and hourly workers the same. The U.S. division of Ikea, the quirky Swedish furniture retailer, is expanding its paid leave benefits for new parents in an effort to attract and retain talent in a tight labor market.

Oh IKEA how I adore you. One of just a handful of organizations to slowly, carefully labor through the complexities of developing parental leave as well as on and off ramp policies that speak to both hourly and salaried employees. I am most impressed by your pragmatism. You took your time and you continue to make every effort to get it right.

Let’s support IKEA — planning a pumping lounge for your work-place? Designing a nursery at home? How about showing a little IKEA love and following their lead (and even their directions!) to build spaces that make us all feel at home!

Do you have a story about your experience with leave or return to work after baby? Please share it with us!

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