Marketing agency Ansira has expanded its parental perks to include paid leave, a cash bonus, flexible scheduling and nursing rooms in the office.
The agency, which is headquartered in St. Louis and Dallas, with 11 other locations like London and New York, spent a year piloting various parent-friendly initiatives before the program went into effect on Nov. 1.
Birth mothers are eligible for five weeks of short-term disability after a vaginal birth or seven weeks of short term disability after a C-section, and employees will receive a salary continuation at 60% of the employee’s current pay rate. Eligible employees can then add on five to seven weeks of FMLA unpaid leave and use paid time off, according to the agency.
New parents of biological or adopted children also qualify for a $2,500 bonus within the first 30-days of service after returning to work. They will receive an alternative work schedule for up to 16 weeks following the latest addition to their family, which can include using available PTO, flexible schedules, working from home, and bringing their child to work. Ansira is also providing employees with compensation for the travel and meals of a “companion,” such as their child, when they are required to travel for work.
“Informally, when the new mom came back to work, there would be some accommodations or flexible scheduling,” says Con McGrath, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Ansira.
The company’s original maternity leave plan was “a fairly standard benefit program” that only focused on the female employees who gave birth. Those employees would have to take leave through the agency’s short-term disability program, he says.
The fathers were generally left out of the policy, and “it’s one of the things we addressed in the new program,” adds McGrath.
External reports and internal anecdotes within Ansira indicate that men tend to take less parental leave than women, which led to the cash bonus over paternity leave, says Kelly Jo Sands, executive vice president of marketing technology and data services at Ansira.
The agency says it expects to spend around $62,000 on the program for its 825 employees across the agency, 25 of which were eligible to use the parental perks program in 2017.
“We frankly never thought about this from a hard dollar ROI perspective,” McGrath says. “We know our employee space very well. We think it will really help us attract great additional people our team.”
The perks extend into the physical office space as well. The North and South offices in Dallas will be vacated as 400 employees move into a singular new space. In that office, there will be nursing rooms on each floor and a room dedicated to the bring-your-baby-to-work program.
Ansira has about a dozen offices across the United States; some of which, like the Portland location, will make massage chairs, standing desks and treadmill desks available to employees, Sands says. However, different offices will have different perks, like a nursing room.
During the research and pilot process for this program, Ansira says it looked at other marketing agencies, tech companies and companies located in St. Louis and Dallas to see how they engaged with their parent-employee population. The agency modeled its companion program around a similar perk at outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia, Sands says.
“How can we get creative being a private large agency?” she says. “How do you make that scalable and fair?”
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