Millennials Want Paternity Leave

Many industries in the United States are engaged in a fierce competition for talent. Because millennials value paid parental leave for both fathers and mothers more so than did previous generations, Ronald Alsop of the New York Times explains that “an arms race to provide the best parental leave benefits for fathers as well as mothers” has begun in the United States. The United States remains the only developed country that does not require paid parental leave. This combination of competition for talent and pressure from millennials is gradually increasing the number of organizations, including technology, financial services, and state and local governments, offering this benefit to both parents, and increasing the length of time being offered—from six weeks to as long as twenty weeks in some cases. A recent study by Ernst & Young (EY) of 9,700 people for its global generational survey found that 83 percent of American millennials said they would be more likely to join a company offering such benefits. EY reports that “employees who receive paternity leave are far more engaged and trusting of the organization because they can live a full life.” The EY study also details benefits to spouses when fathers take paternity leave. Not surprisingly, spouses whose partners take paternity leave are able to focus on their careers, reduce their stress levels, and catch up on their work more easily after returning from their own leave. While millennials are demanding paid parental leave benefits, paternity leave itself is still relatively underutilized in the United States. While it has technically been available to fathers for some time, most men in the United States will not take paternity leave even when it is offered. A Boston College study found that, while nearly all men feel their employer should offer paternity leave, 86 percent said they would not use it because they fear the loss of income or retaliation that would damage their careers. It seems that millennials are leading an important shift in our culture, but organizations will need to be intentional about changing their cultures to support and encourage both fathers and mothers to take parental leave. Senior men and women will have to be role models and ensure that both men and women can take parental leave without damaging their careers. Millennials are making their mark on our societal culture, and it is a welcome one.   Photo by Rodrigo Castro, CC BY 2.0.    ]]>

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