Many of us read (or skim) articles on our Facebook feeds and on blogs about perfecting the balance between work and family. My take: balance never seems to be balanced so, like many of you, I have embraced juggling. Parenting is exhausting, filled with constant negotiation (in my case with a very opinionated and headstrong 3-year-old), but each day is filled with more joy and hysterical moments than I ever thought possible. And on the tougher days, my husband and I frequently remind each other that a day hasn’t gone by since becoming parents where we haven’t smiled at something our kids have done or said.
There are a lot of surprises when you become a parent – I didn’t expect how transferable (and helpful) many of the skills we rely on to work in our field – like an obsessive attention to the detail, selective and deliberate use of vocabulary to craft a message and being deadline driven – are to parenting. Remembering that it’s “dress like a superhero” week at school, that yes, we do HAVE to brush our teeth every morning and every night, and swooping in to turn off the TV during the 15 seconds of credits of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode BEFORE another show starts makes the difference between a happy start to the day or the sometimes unavoidable alternative.
Now what I’m about to say is certainly not revolutionary, but since deciding to have children, I realized I was not paying nearly enough attention to the value of benefits (I’m talking about those HR-related benefits that some of us might gloss over). In my opinion, they are vastly underrated and underappreciated.
When pursuing your next career move – whether moving up within your current organization or switching jobs or careers entirely – I cannot stress enough how important I think it is to know about the benefits offered in your new role.
There is a real value to the benefits that many employers offer that need to be weighed when deciding what you plan to spend most of your waking hours doing each day. I have a friend who turned down a great job offer because it lacked transparency and clarity on the “extra” benefits offered. I’m not talking about healthcare coverage or paid time off. I’m referring to those benefits that are relevant for people at certain times in their lives – parents, prospective parents, family caregivers, individuals who may, in a few years, look towards their retirement, among many, many others.
For this friend, the company couldn’t – or maybe wouldn’t – provide clarity around maternity benefits, which motivated her to accept a job elsewhere. Even though she wasn’t quite ready for children yet, it was so impressive to me that she was able to think about her immediate future with her long-term future in mind.
On the other side of the coin, I also have a dear friend who specifically sought out (and waited for) the right opportunity at a specific company where her job would be fulfilling, stimulating and advance her career, and she could take advantage the family-centric programs and benefits that were hallmark to the company’s reputation as a great employer.
The Burson and Direct Impact leadership teams gave me the ability to welcome my youngest son late last summer, to focus on our family’s adjustment to life with two kids and to recover from a very tough delivery without having to worry while I was away about my clients and my day-to-day at work until it was the right time, for me, to return.
I’m not only sharing my perspective because I personally benefitted from Burson’s new paid family leave policy, which I was very lucky to be able to utilize just a couple of months after it’s unveiling, but I truly believe it’s something to be celebrated that Burson has decided that its parental leave policy will not just cover expectant mothers, but non-birth parents as well. It’s refreshing to work for a company that understands and values family, understands that it takes significant time and attention to welcome a new little one into your life and demonstrates that by prioritizing family life as a part of the company’s benefits package.
In the end, what you find valuable about your employment experience is up to you. But I can’t stress highly enough how helpful it is to look beyond that initial dollar amount when weighing your future career options. I hope more employers take note as well. Wouldn’t it be nice if all companies posted their benefits? There is a real value to these benefits, and as another Mother’s Day arrives, I hope more and more employers, their employees and prospective employees recognize that too.
Katie Feldman is a Vice President with Direct Impact, the nation’s leading grassroots mobilization firm and wholly owned subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller.