I wrote about the McKinsey Women in the Workplace report a year ago. A growing gender gap in burnout rates was found in the report. During the Pandemic, women left the workforce in large numbers, threatening decades of progress. An ongoing childcare squeeze has left working mothers overwhelmed and stressed, even with some of them returning to work.
Women who opt for remote work risk being second-class employees and missing out on promotions and choice assignments. It’s no wonder that one in four women is thinking about leaving the workforce.
Such a state of affairs is considered to be an emergency for corporate America. According to a new McKinsey survey of new fathers and their partners, expanded support for paternal leave could help address the problem of burned-out working mothers. Improving employees’ lives at home, job satisfaction, and overall well-being is a win-WIN for everyone involved, as a result of normalized paternity leave.
The right thing to do is to increase support for paternity leave. For both men and women, it is an investment in well-being.
A majority of men found the experience of taking paternity leave to be a positive one and would do it again. It improved their relationship. One of the lessons of the Pandemic is that what happens at home and at work are connected. Employees that are Happier are more productive.
According to the survey and recent studies, paternity leave has long-term benefits for couples, which translate into improved future equality in sharing household responsibilities Working mothers who have that kind of equity will be less stressed out. One study found that paternal leave resulted in increased life satisfaction and well-being for both men and women, but the effect was even stronger for women.
The well-being of mothers can be improved by greater equity and paternal involvement. Studies show that a lack of paternal involvement is related to the risk of depression. A Swedish law that allows fathers to take up to 30 days of leave resulted in a decrease in anti-anxiety prescriptions for the mother and a reduction in hospitalizations or visits to a specialist.
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Leveling the playing field for working mothers
It helps women in the workplace if you support paternity leave. The so-called “motherhood penalty” is mitigated by the fact that mothers can return to the workforce earlier.
The benefits of paternity leave are measurable. According to McKinsey, research shows that parental pay can start one year before a child’s birth and go up to four years later. For each month the father spent on parental leave, the mother’s income grew.
According to some studies, paid paternal leave has the potential to close the gender pay gap. The countries with the smallest gender pay gaps have some of the most generous parental leave policies.
Attracting and retaining top talent
More progressive paternal leave policies can help companies win a tighter battle for talent. 45% of working mothers who left the workforce said that childcare was a significant reason, which is why the Great Resignation was partly driven by this.
Companies that step up and take the lead in offering a range of childcare options and in supporting paternal leave will increasingly stand out from the rest of the pack as attractive places to work, as the reverse holds as well. According to McKinsey, 83% of women and 81% of men say the benefits of having a child are important in deciding whether to stay with their current employer or explore other options.
The men in the survey reported that the experience made them feel more engaged as employees. Many people said that they were more likely to stay with their current organization when they returned to work. They got a “longevity boost” to their careers when they had a baby.
The evidence shows that when men take time off, women benefit. To celebrate Father’s Day, we should commit to a win-win policy that improves the well-being and job satisfaction of all employees, and helps us progress toward a more equitable workplace.