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Back to work: how to support working parents

The right benefits package lets your people know you support them and can go a long way towards building staff satisfaction and loyalty.


It’s 2 a.m. Your VP of Business Development is multitasking, jotting a few final notes on her iPhone for the big sales presentation in the morning, all while she feeds her baby. What can you do to help?

As someone moves into the demanding dual role of a new parent, or a working parent with multiple kids at home, it can feel a bit like a secret identity—Clark Kent by day, Superman by night. Creating a supportive benefits package will let your superheroes know you want them to succeed in both roles, and it can go a long way towards building overall employee satisfaction and loyalty.

What can parental benefits include?

Flexible work hours and other family leave options. Babies are adorable, mostly. But even the nicest ones have screaming fits and nights when they absolutely refuse to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. There are going to be days when everything goes perfectly, and days where everything goes haywire. Additional paid leave, flexible work hours, and remote work options can help working parents as they work through these challenges.

Stress reduction and mood support. The combination of hormonal changes and sleep deprivation can be challenging for new parents as they figure out how to balance work and family priorities. The same goes for parents who already have children at home and are juggling multiple schedules. On top of these stressors, nearly 15% of women experience some post-partum depression and may need extra assistance, treatment, and support. Expanding your parental leave policies can also alleviate some of the effects of post-partum depression. Shorter leaves have been associated with more symptoms of maternal depression or anxiety, and longer leaves are associated with better mental health.

Nearly 15% of women experience some post-partum depression.

Breastfeeding support. Employers are required to provide a space for nursing mothers and reasonable break time for mothers to pump milk. This space should be a dedicated area that is not a bathroom or another common use room. Consider taking additional steps to enhance the experience, such as providing dedicated refrigerators for milk storage and comfortable reclining chairs. The Office on Women’s Health has extensive resources on building a lactation support program.

Child care options. Many leading companies offer full-time on-site child care for their employees, which can result in significant savings and productivity enhancement. If you’re not in a position to offer this, you might consider a backup child care program, which can help parents when they need additional support around unexpected challenges like illness or caregiver absences. Many Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) also offer help to parents with things such as day care referrals or school and college assistance. Make sure your people know that EAPs can be a great resource.

Parental support is an important component of your company’s maternity benefits program, and considering these ideas can help enhance these benefits.

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