What will the long tail of the Netflix decision mean for all of us?
The decision that Netflix made this past week to allow employees “unlimited” maternity and paternity leave is for salaried employees. After that decision more than a handful of other companies jumped into the party such a Microsoft that will increase paid leave. Other companies have announced an increase in paid maternity and paternity leave such as Nestle, Vodafone, Blackstone, Johnson & Johnson and more. You won’t see fast food chains or companies that rely on manual labor jumping into this fray so quickly but perhaps they will be start to think about being more employee friendly too.
The good news is that companies are beginning to recognize that employees who are given perks that allow them to live a balanced life between work and home make for happy employees and in the end more productive companies. Ever since the mid-90’s when technology started to see an explosion of new companies, I always hoped that those companies would also change the work life. We are finally starting to see those changes take place from extended maternity and paternity leave to open vacation policies to supporting parents to go to their kids sport games to having an open kitchen in the office with lunch and snacks being served to having hang-out areas that are more conducive to community and interaction with your peers. These are all great things that are creating cultures conducive to empowering employees. As our professional and personal lives become more blended due to technology this makes for a healthier work day.
One of the women founders that I am invested in sat down with people in her company and talked to them about their “dream work perks”. Super smart on her part. She is building a culture as the company grows and wants to make sure the first group of employees are part of this process. Open conversation and transparency makes for a healthier environment.
Not surprising that the number one thing is qualify of life balance. What can a company do to help with that? Unlimited vacation is one and studies have shown that when you give people that they do not take advantage but become more productive. Giving people a month off after 5 years of employment can be another bonus. Retreats so that everyone can connect and be involved in what is happening in the company. Healthy onsite meals available throughout the day. Pushing people to take off an extended vacation for mental health. I totally agree with that. The importance off taking time is huge. The last point is a great one…get rid of the title HR and replace it with Quality of Life director.
Education is important too. Supporting employees to educate themselves to make them better at what they do. Create mentorship programs with in the company helps everyone.
It is incredible to see the support of maternity and paternity leave begin to happen. What if you don’t have kids? What if you need to attend to a sick parent? That should also be part of this program. Everyone has different needs around their personal lives and companies should embrace that. Each culture is different and it is important to build one that makes sense for the founder and the employees. It could be daily yoga stretches as a group or Friday afternoon pizza. It is about community and a supportive work environment where everyone feels that they are a part of it. It gets more difficult as the company grows but setting those foundations in place make it easier to build that culture.
Netflix has started a movement that is forcing other companies to rethink their policies for their employees. That is a really good thing. Not sure how this bleeds down to hourly workers but I do believe that every decision has a long tail and eventually seeing some of the household name companies make a stand will make all companies pay attention. When the data comes back for young families who can work and feel supportive of their children at the same….that will be huge.