It’s well understood that bonding time between newborns and their parents is crucial, especially in those early days. Now comes recognition that grandparents should be part of that experience, too.
Employers have parental leave for moms and dads. Recently, some are including grandparents as well. Software company Cisco Systems rolled out a three-day paid leave for its Canadian employees in March 2018. It offered the perk to its US staff six months ago and hopes it can expand to other countries.
Was it good corporate citizenship that inspired the change? Partly. It also makes good financial sense. While the company actively seeks fresh young minds anxious to start their careers, it also has a sizeable employee population of mature talents that it does not want to lose. After all, who’s going to teach those young bucks?
Through research and interviews, Cisco found that the arrival of a grandchild was a significant life event for its more experienced staffers. It decided to launch a leave especially for grandparents that can be taken any time within the grandchild’s first year of life.
Not surprisingly, the response to the new initiative has been very positive. Employees are happy that they get to be part of their grandchild’s life and it makes them feel good about working for an employer that is progressive and responsive to the needs of an employee.
Leave for grandparents might be a new concept to North American companies, but elsewhere it has been already been adopted. Australia, for example, allows them to take leave in order to undertake a primary caregiver role for their grandkids. It’s unpaid, but grandmas and granddads can take the time they need to help without penalty or job loss. Also on board is Finland, a country known for its forward-thinking social programs. DNA, a teleoperator, is providing a weeklong paid leave to its staff, which has a median age of 46.
Beyond the feel-good corporate vibes a grandparent leave can create, it also strengthens families and makes them healthier. Close grandparent-grandchild relationships are also an indicator of the general wellness of a family. A study by Boston College found that there was a reduction in the depressive symptoms among the 374 grandparents and 356 adult grandchildren it examined over a 19-year period.
Hoping that your employer might follow suit and introduce a leave for grandparents? Make some noise. Talk to your human resource department, lobby fellow grandmas and grandpas and put forth the suggestion. It’s time that companies recognize the value of their mature staff members and honour the key moments in their life by ensuring they are part of them.