What International Companies Teach Us About Family-Friendly Benefits

By on February 26, 2024

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It’s no secret that companies are navigating an era of heightened competition and emerging economic challenges. As the workforce demographic increasingly shifts toward Gen Z and millennials, who highly value work-life balance and family wellness, enterprises must evolve to meet those expectations. These are challenges many international companies have been meeting head-on. 

Many International companies are demonstrating that cultivating a family-first workplace goes beyond merely offering support for parents-to-be and working parents; it's a compelling strategy for attracting and retaining the most talented employees, benefitting the overall health of their businesses.  

Paid Parental Leave

Beyond salary and health benefits, enterprise employers typically offer some basic paid maternity leave. The World Health Organization recommends 14 weeks as the minimum, with 18 weeks being the actual recommended amount of leave.

Despite being one of the world's leading economies, the United States is the sole high-income nation that does not mandate paid maternity leave. The importance of such leave cannot be overstated. A wealth of research highlights the multitude of advantages that extended paid leave confers on maternal health, child development, and even broader labor market outcomes.

The average leave for new parents is approximately one week in the U.S. In comparison, the average paid leave in the European Union reserved for mothers is 14 weeks and two weeks for fathers. But American companies looking to stand out as employers are taking note. In 2022, employer leaders, including Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Etsy, Dropbox, Netflix, and Lululemon Athletica, set the standard by providing some of the most generous paid parental leave benefits in the U.S.  

Leading the Pack - International Companies With Stellar Family Benefits  

Companies can offer plenty of family-friendly benefits to attract and retain top talent, in addition to primary healthcare and paid parental leave. Below are a few examples of what leading international companies are doing:

A quick snapshot of what international companies are generally doing in areas U.S. employers have not typically branched into include:  

  • Paternity Leave: 45 nations offer fathers paid paternity leave or paid parental leave rights.
  • Paid Leave for Sick Children: 37 nations provide paid leave for parents during their children's illness, with most granting over a week and a significant portion offering 11+ days.
  • Illness Leave: 139 countries offer paid leave for illnesses, short-term or long-term, with 117 ensuring at least a week's leave annually.
  • Wage Premiums: 40 countries mandate extra pay for evening and night shifts.
  • Mandatory Day of Rest: Over 98 countries require a compulsory weekly rest period of at least 24 hours.
  • Work Week Limitation: 84 countries legislate maximum work week durations.
  • Leave for Family Events: 42 countries provide leave for significant family occasions, with paid leave in 37 of these nations.

Shaping the Conversation Around Family-Friendly Benefits

The generous family-friendly benefits offered by companies like Adobe (India), IKEA (Sweden), and Vodafone (U.K.) are not just setting a new standard within their own countries—they are influencing the global corporate conversation, including in the U.S. When these enterprises enact progressive policies such as extensive paid parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and supportive return-to-work programs, they challenge American companies to follow suit to remain competitive in the global market for talent. 

American businesses are taking note of these international benchmarks and the positive outcomes they yield, including enhanced employee satisfaction, reduced turnover, and greater gender equality in the workplace. As U.S. companies aim to attract and retain a diverse and modern workforce, the example set by these global leaders is steering the dialogue toward a more holistic approach to employee benefits—one that encompasses the well-being of the entire family.

How To Incorporate Family-Friendly Benefits

Discover how to implement transformative family benefits with our insightful new ebook, Cultivating a Family-Friendly Workplace: A Journey from Fertility to Childhood and Beyond. It's a comprehensive resource designed to guide you in creating a workplace that supports families and fosters business growth. Take a significant step towards securing your company's position as a leader in the evolving corporate landscape!


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