It was a cool Spring Saturday evening when Account Executive Stephen Wood decided to take a long walk around the neighborhood with his expecting wife, Lizzy, in an attempt to jumpstart her labor. As it turned out, this would be the last time that they would tour their local streets as a family of two.
Steve and Lizzy had been patiently waiting for this moment to arrive for nine long months, and shortly after midnight the following morning, it became very clear that the time had come for their first child to arrive. Fortunately, at that moment, Steve knew that his work life could wait — his only focus was on his wife and the safe delivery of his first baby. Steve was the first beneficiary of his company’s new Paid Family Leave benefit, and with the support of his manager and teammates, Steve’s family leave plan was triggered into action.
“I knew it was going to be different, but in those first few weeks especially, you don’t realize how much work becoming a new parent entails. I’m grateful for the one-on-ones my Director spent with me to prepare for this, and the overall support from my team, because I really was able to drop everything – which allowed me to completely focus on becoming a dad. I didn’t have to think twice about being there for Lizzy, particularly as she was learning to breastfeed. She and our son, Gregory, both needed my help and the great thing was, they didn’t have to ask for it; I was completely available for my family.”
Steve works for Internet Creations, an NJ-based Salesforce Consulting firm offering Paid Family Leave to employees who welcome the birth of a son or daughter, the placement of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care, or to care for a family member who may have a serious health condition.
Steve had the option to take all eight weeks of his fully-paid family leave at once, or he could take advantage of a gradual-return-to-work option, which would allow him to spread the same amount of paid time off over a 12-week period. This gave him some flexibility to configure his leave based on his family’s needs. Considering all of the new responsibilities and adjustments that a family typically deals within the first few weeks after welcoming a new child, Steve found comfort in knowing that his professional life was supporting his family life when it mattered the most.
Looking back, Lizzy knows that Steve’s involvement and time spent at home made a significant impact on all of them:
“My son and I are now three months in, with a healthy breastfeeding relationship, thanks to the support from my husband that was available from the beginning. I am so grateful to have had Steve by my side during sleepless nights, to help soothe a crying newborn and to change countless diapers, so I could rest and recover from labor. He was able to help prepare meals and clean up so that I could put my energy toward feeding our baby. Steve and Gregory have an amazing bond now.”
Steve agrees, “The best part is, Gregory knows me when I walk in the door. He knows I’m Daddy, he smiles. I honestly don’t think that would be happening if I didn’t have the opportunity to spend as much time with him in these first few months that I have been, in my most challenging and rewarding role — as a new Dad.”
Today, 89% of men want to take time off from work after their babies are born and think it should be paid – According to a study conducted by Boston College called “The New Dad.” Also, the American Psychological Association has published that “Psychological research across families from all ethnic backgrounds suggests that fathers’ affection and increased family involvement help promote children’s social and emotional development.”
The New Dad also offers that 2-out-of-3 fathers say that caregiving should be divided equally with their partners, and while fathers who state that caregiving should be divided 50/50 with their partner, they also admit they are unable to do so.
Companies like Internet Creations are proving that while today’s respective caregiver roles are evolving at home, today’s workplace is implementing policy change in parallel to support the needs of all working parents and caregivers equally.
Liz Angelucci Beggs is a progressive communications and talent development leader with over 15 years of experience navigating successful entrepreneurial environments and delivering internal/external communications, talent acquisition, company culture, employee experience and employee engagement programs in the software and media industries. Beggs is a working mom of two, with a passion for connecting people to opportunities. She enjoys telling the stories of extraordinary companies and the people who make companies extraordinary. This year, she was recognized as a 2018 Best 50 Women In Business by NJBiz. Connect with Liz on LinkedIn or Twitter.