Last week, we hosted a webinar to really get down to what we can do about promoting Shared Parental Leave as a benefit and as a tool for organisational change. Dr Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi, a senior lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, shared the results of her research in this field.
We were joined by HR professionals across 12 global organisations, covering the legal, finance, insurance, property and hospitality sectors.
Here are some of the key messages:
- The full benefits of taking Shared Parental Leave are not adequately communicated – and they are not understood by those considering it. The main benefits are:
- Father/child bonding opportunity. Pew-funded research in the US in 2015 found that fathers were just as likely as mothers to say parenting was ‘extremely important to their identity’. For father’s health and wellbeing and for children’s future development and potential, dads need to spend more time with their children
- Opportunity for equality in the household and in relationships – The Guardian in February 2018 reported that British women are still doing 60% more housework than men – which is giving them less time and energy for their careers
- Opportunity for equality in the workplace – arguably one of the first aims of introducing Shared Parental Leave was to lessen the impact of child-rearing on the mother’s career and to encourage more men to share
- Work/family balance and reduction of stress levels – the Modern Families Index reveals one third of working fathers feels regularly ‘burnt out’ and that 1 in 5 were working extra hours
- Awareness, understanding and communication of the policy remains the biggest barrier to SPL. Ernestine’s research shows that only 18% respondents had heard about SPL through their employer, yet 46% had heard about it on the news/in the media
- There are many factors and attitudes which influence couples’ decisions to take SPL – but when we delve deeper, we realise that many of these are perceived barriers which have evolved from lack of understanding of the policy. For example, reasons not to take SPL (from Ernestine’s research) include desire to continue breastfeeding and finances – however in reality these anxieties could be overcome by both parents taking leave simultaneously or by taking a shorter period to lessen the financial impact
Ernestine suggested several ways for HR to move past these barriers, including:
- Engaging the senior leaders – linking the benefits of taking SPL to wider D&I goals such as talent development, retention and attraction; increasing the number of women in senior positions
- Increase levels of understanding to employees through case studies, checklists, examples and the opportunity to talk to someone one-to-one about personal ways of making it work
- Hold workshops to help managers and employees really understand in detail – consider introducing a leadership module on managing overall flexibility
- Employee Benefits: Accenture on SPL
- FT article: SPL suffers inauspicious start
- Swedish dads exhibition – using photos to inspire a change in role perception
- The Telegraph: my husband wanted SPL but I couldn’t do it
- Miami Herald: benefits of male role model in our children’s lives
Contact us email@example.com if you would like to discuss how we can help implement any of these ideas.