By Sarah Cullen
AdForum: What is the current maternity leave program in place at your agency?
Christine: We offer 12 weeks of 100% paid leave and then 4 weeks of “phase back time” in which the primary caregiver can work a part time schedule at full time pay. We also offer an additional 4 weeks of paid leave for “special births” which are multiple births, babies born with special medical needs, and preemies.
We also offer similar paid leave for employees who adopt children. The primary caretaker also qualifies for 12 weeks at 100% leave.
AdForum: And why do you think it’s important to have a maternity leave program?
Christine: First and foremost, we want to take care of our employees because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also become a differentiating factor for agencies. Statistics show that a large majority of parents would leave their jobs for one with better family care benefits. Women make 51% of our workforce at EP + Co and their participation is critical to our success.
AdForum: As the fight for talent continues to intensify, how is your agency’s maternity program competing with tech companies, such as Netflix, that are offering exceptional benefits to new parents?
Christine: Great talent can come from anywhere and recruiting from the tech sector is increasingly important to all agencies. We’ve definitely been inspired by efforts from companies like Facebook, Google, and Netflix to set new standards for the employee experience and improve our offering. One of the ways we’ve done this at EP + Co is listening to our mom’s about what they’d like to see change. Many of our recent improvements have come directly from mothers and we have made them a reality.
AdForum: Many mothers who work within companies with flexible maternity benefits report having greater job satisfaction. Is a flexible working environment a strategic decision that you could see being implemented for secondary caregivers and non-parents?
Christine: Absolutely and in many ways we’re already headed there. We’ve instituted a monthly “work from home” day and also have started to offer 16 hours of additional PTO time for all of our employees to use for whatever life demands – whether that be parental obligations or dealing with elder parent care.
AdForum: With programmes such as Pledge Parental Leave and an increasing number of agencies investing in new mothers; what should we expect for the future of new parents in the agency world?
Christine: I think you’ll start to see more than just paid leave being offered. The way we work is changing and the barriers that used to exist for many people between their lives and their jobs are breaking down. Agencies should be thinking hard about how to adapt the way we work and the overall employee experience accordingly. Most modern thinking organizations are already enticing talent with generous leave policies – especially as there is more pressure for organizations to treat all of their employees equally. Agencies will need to explore ways to address what happens once parents return to work if they want to keep talent. For example, EP + Co has started partnerships with Care.com and MilkStork (which ships breastmilk for nursing moms who travel) to make work-life post baby, an easier one. We’ve found it critical to listen to what our employees are asking for and take action as quickly as possible. If the employees are happy, they are more productive, the agency is more successful and it makes for an overall great working environment.