Why Employees Hesitate to Utilize Parental Benefits

In recent years, workplaces have made strides in offering supportive policies for parents. However, despite these improvements, many employees are reluctant to take advantage of these benefits due to fear of judgment and discrimination, according to a new study.

The research reveals that both mothers and fathers in the workforce are hesitant to utilize parental benefits available to them. The reluctance stems from concerns about potential negative impacts on their career progression.

The study uncovers a common fear among mothers of being perceived as "less capable" or "less committed" if they were to fully embrace their parental identities and responsibilities at work. In extreme cases, some women even opt to leave the workforce altogether due to an inability to balance professional and personal duties.

Despite an expressed desire among men to be more involved in childcare, the study found that most fathers remain hesitant to take parental leave. The utilization of shared parental leave, a policy allowing parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay, remains below 10% of eligible individuals.

Alison Green, director of WOMBA, emphasizes the importance of creating a psychologically safe workplace environment to encourage the uptake of parental benefits. She suggests that employers invest in family-friendly policies, including equal and enhanced parental leave, flexible working arrangements, and specialized support.

However, Green highlights that simply implementing policies is insufficient. To foster tangible progress for working parents, organizations must cultivate a culture where employees feel comfortable utilizing these benefits without fearing repercussions on their careers. Managers play a crucial role in leading by example, while colleagues should support and encourage each other to embrace these policies.

Without a psychologically safe culture, Green warns, policies alone will not drive meaningful change, and organizations will struggle to create lasting impact for working parents. By prioritizing both policies and culture, workplaces can ensure that all employees feel supported in balancing their professional and parental responsibilities.

Source: Forbes
Photo: Getty

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