Parental leave benchmarking and experience toolkit for US HR leaders

By Circle In

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Lead the way.
Simple steps to stand out from the crowd with parental leave benefits your people will love.


From COVID-19 to The Great Resignation, there are plenty of factors impacting employers’ ability to attract and retain top talent. With a widespread move toward remote working arrangements and more people than ever focused on the positive impact of flexibility on their role and family, the need to offer employees a range of benefits to allow them to balance their family and working life has never been more important.

2021 research by McKinsey found that working parents are leaving their jobs in higher numbers than their non-parent counterparts. Parents cited reasons such as competing pressures, returning to the office, not finding consistent childcare, and reevaluating their overall work/life balance. In a talent short market, progressive employers are increasingly turning to better their support for working families as a key pillar of their talent attraction and retention strategy.

The US is the only OECD country not to have a national statutory paid parental leave entitlement, however, many US-based organizations are choosing to forge ahead with compelling paid parental leave benefits without federal mandates. And, in today’s fiercely competitive market, where candidates increasingly choose us rather than the other way around, workplace benefits such as a best practice parental leave program become a key battleground for attracting and retaining talent. Progressive parental leave offerings also contribute significantly to creating inclusive workplace cultures, higher levels of engagement and deliver a win-win for both the employee and the organization.

Organizations that prove they are family-friendly by having strong and inclusive parental benefits stand to reap many rewards including:

  • Better brand advocacy (72% of Circle In members say they are more likely to recommend their company to others, as a result of the support)
  • Better recruitment, retention, and promotion rates
  • Promotion of gender equality
  • Enhanced employee engagement and wellbeing (80% of our members say support makes them feel more positive towards their organization)
  • Keeping up with expectations of top-class talent in today’s hyper-competitive talent marketplace

Before you start to build or better your parental leave benefits there are a number of things to consider to ensure
your impact matches your intentions.

Three questions HR leaders should ask when building better parental leave benefits.

What might the barriers be to our employees accessing our benefits?

Does accessing your family / parental leave benefits depend on employment type?

Cultural conditions – does your culture make it easy for all parents, of all genders and all carer statuses to access your parenting and family benefits?

How easy is it to know about and apply for your parenting and family benefits?

What assumptions are we making in our policies and practices?

Who is included in your benefits and who isn’t included?

Are your benefits reinforcing any unhelpful stereotypes or assumptions?

Who benefits from our benefits…and how do we know?

Are we encouraging and role modeling employees at all levels, all employment types, all genders, and all family make-ups accessing our benefits?

Are we measuring the right things and listening to our employees when it comes to parental leave, returning to work, and ongoing family benefits?

Are we measuring the RIO of our parental leave benefits?

So what does best practice look like?

In this guide you’ll learn how to:

Do your parental benefits meet best practices? Take the test and find out!

Use our simple self-assessment guide to measure where your current parental benefits offering sits in comparison to best practice programs.

At the end, we provide an overall assessment and advice on how to move closer to a best practice parental leave program that will help your organization attract and retain employees and keep them feeling engaged and supported throughout their parenting and caregiving journey.

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