Great benefits for parents isn’t just a nice gesture — it’s a smart business decision
Of all the things to consider when starting or expanding a family in America, finances are right near the top of the list. We’re one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave, and the support doesn’t get much better after you’ve given birth and are raising a child. More and more employers are trying to fill that gap for working moms and dads — but a company called Kickstand Communications is truly taking it to another level. The firm is offering new parents an instant $6,000 per year raise, plus a $500 monthly stipend for working parents.
Co-founder Kristina Kennedy tells Scary Mommy that she and fellow Kickstand co-founder Molly George know how difficult it is to be a working parent because they’ve experienced those struggles themselves. “We literally went from one child between us in 2017 to seven in 2019. What we needed with each maternity leave and to support our kids and family with each of those additions was incredibly different. These personal experiences shape the flexible structure of our benefits,” Kennedy explained.
So often, new parents — mainly moms — are forced to drop out of the workforce because childcare costs are too high, or because they just can’t get the flexibility and support they need from their jobs to be the kind of employee and the kind of parent they want to be. Increased pay can help parents meet some of those needs and keep their careers going, and paying parents more is a bargain when the alternative is losing them. “Nothing is more expensive than poor retention,” says Kennedy.
Kennedy tells us why the stipend is worth it from a business owner perspective — and what other companies should consider when it comes to keeping employees who are parents happy in the workplace: “There are all sorts of creative ways to demonstrate you care about your employees. I think the right approach is to look at the needs of your employees and the structure of your business. Based on the business model, some employers may be more easily able to offer low or no cost benefits such as flex hours or additional time off, while for others — having employees out of the office or with unstructured hours may not work, and stipends or other financial benefits may be a better fit.
“The important thing to remember is to do something that makes sense for your business, at the stage you are, and that shows your employees you see them and you care,” she says.
By some estimates, the pandemic forced as many as 3 million moms to leave their jobs. If more companies were as committed to supporting families as Kickstand is, that number could be so much lower. But here’s the question that likely leaps to most people’s minds (besides whether they’re hiring, of course): what do Kickstand’s child-free employees think about the benefit?
Kennedy says there’s been no backlash from workers without kids, and that they have voiced overwhelming support for the policy. “At the end of the day, our team sees how hard everyone is working, but know that our working parents face different challenges. I think they also know that if they face a unique challenge in their life, we’ll similarly be there to support them.”
The company also offers a fabulous parental leave policy along with some other benefits that all employees can take advantage of. Their parental leave is what they call “design your own.” Kennedy says, “It starts with the premise of 12 weeks 100% paid, but can be taken in any way, shape, or form during the first year after adoption or their child is born.” The company is taking a similar approach to bereavement leave as far as leaving it up to employees how to use up to 15 days of paid time off with no “relation” requirements. Beyond that, they allow employees three “mental health hours” per week. Kennedy says it’s a no questions asked policy where employees are able to block their calendar up to three hours each week to take a break. Wellness and social stipends are also offered, encouraging employees to care for their health, both physical and emotional.
Ultimately, Kennedy believes their generous benefits for parents make the company alluring to even those who won’t be taking advantage of it. “Even a small act goes a long way is showing your entire team what type of employer you are.”