Were you as surprised as most other businesspeople when you heard that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was taking two months of paternity leave after his daughter, Max, was born? Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us—after all, many mothers take six to 12 weeks of maternity leave, depending on their income and benefits.
But Zuckerberg isn’t just any dad—he’s a high-powered CEO and the face of a publicly held company. On the one hand, that means he has the power to decide to take two months off. On the other, it means he has more on his plate than most, and his time is very valuable.
Zuckerberg’s commitment to taking time off illustrates some key changes taking place at work—one of which is the importance of work-life balance. Millennials, perhaps more than any other generation, are emphasizing work-life integration. In their younger years, they want the freedom to enjoy time off and pursue their own interests; once they start having children—which many are now doing—they want time with their kids.
Millennial and Gen X parents are also more likely than previous generations to view parenting as a shared responsibility, rather than just the mother’s job. Younger dads are more likely to actually take paternity leave, where dads in previous demographics wouldn’t take it even if offered.
More and more companies are starting to offer paternity leave or parental leave rather than just maternity leave. In general, paternity leave is typically much shorter than maternity leave. Still, the mere fact it’s on offer at all is a major change from just 10 or 15 years ago.
Should you offer paternity leave to your employees? Of course, this will depend on where your business is located (different states have different laws regarding paid or unpaid family leave), as well as your company’s size. But in general, the more flexible you can be with new parents’ work arrangements, the better for your business in the long run. Offering remote work, part-time work or even unpaid time off–all are possible options you may want to consider for new dads.
As the face of the American family changes, one thing stays the same: Parents, especially new parents, want and need time to bond with their children. If your business can help them achieve that goal in any way, you’ll have loyal employees for life.
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Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.