Yahoo’s New Maternity Leave Policy Is One Step In the Right Direction
Earlier this week, Marissa Mayer, Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo, announced that the company would be extending maternity leave and paternity leave. They are allowing moms sixteen weeks of paid time off and dads eight paid weeks off after the birth of a child. New fathers and mothers who have a child through adoption, surrogacy or foster care receive eight weeks.
These policies are closer to the benefits offered from other tech giants and competitors like Facebook and Google and come not long after Mayer told telecommuting employees that they would need to show up at the office by June 1st, or leave – causing a firestorm debate among many working parents.
I applaud the extended paid parental leave, even if the motivation is to make Yahoo more attractive when recruiting and retaining top talent from competitors. The reality is, we have reached a point where there is not a division between what is good for a company and what is good for the employee.
You know that saying, “Happy wife, happy life”? Well the same can be said for corporate America. Happy employee, happy company. And the reverse is true as well. Unhappy employee, unhappy company – with some estimates placing the cost of replacing an employee at 40% of what the departing person makes annually. That’s $20,000 in lost productivity, job posting, interviewing and training – which can add up and REALLY hurt a company’s bottom line.
All that being said, I think Mayer’s approach is one giant step in the right direction towards helping her staff balance the demands of work and life, while at the same time building the most productive and profitable company possible.
But it is only one step.
Yahoo’s reversal on allowing employees to work from home begs me to ask the question, “Okay, what do I do when my child is 6-months-old and has an ear infection and can’t go to daycare? Or what happens when one of my parents gets ill and needs help managing their own care?”
Perhaps there is an overall plan that Mayer is rolling out piece by piece as she tries to turn Yahoo around. Or perhaps this is where the family friendly policies begin and end. I guess we will just have to wait and see. Whatever the case is, Yahoo and companies like it are still way ahead and of the curve compared to most other corporations – even with the flaws, which means working parents are left looking around for a model that makes us believe that we won’t always feel so incredibly stressed when it comes to trying to be an excellent employee AND an excellent parent.