There’s a war going on out there. I’m not talking about ISIS, the axis of evil, or the Taliban. I’m talking about the war for talent – the everyday struggle businesses face trying get the best of the best to come work for them.
It makes sense that Netflix – a disruptor in their industry – makes unprecedented moves to win talent. Last week, Netflix announced a new maternity and paternity leave policy that’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. It offers full pay with the flexibility for parents to take a full year of leave or to return for part of the year and then take another leave, within the first year of the child’s life or adoption.
I noticed a couple of things while reading the Netflix post. A company – in the US especially – offering a year of leave is rare, but one offering a year of leave with pay defies what many of us would consider “logical” thinking. Here’s the thing, though – “logical” thinking would also dictate you do what you can to keep your best people. And what makes the best people happy today isn’t the same as what kept them satisfied 20, 30, or 40 years ago.
For Netflix taking such a major step in evolving to meet the needs of its employees, you have to give them credit and hope others will follow suit.
A year is a hell of a lot longer than a lot of other companies are offering, but there was something about the announcement that didn’t sit quite right with me.
Unlimited Maternity and Paternity Leave Doesn’t Exactly Mean Unlimited
Did you notice that the headline was billed as “unlimited maternity and paternity leave”? When I first saw it, I got REALLY excited then I read the body of the post and felt a little disappointment. It’s not because what Netflix has done isn’t impressive but because I know paternity and maternity don’t end after your baby turns one.
Have you ever looked up the definition of paternity? I did and came up with “the state of being someone’s father. Synonym: fatherhood”.
I can remember at 5 months when my son was rushed to the hospital, wheezing for air. I was in France for work and not sure what to do, partly because of the helplessness I felt with the travel time it would have taken me to get home and partly because of the job I held and fearing what would happen if I took too many days.
I can also remember when my son was in pre-school and patches of his hair started falling out with no explanation. Again, I was in a different state for work, and my wife dealt with it alone. And as much as I struggled with not being there for my son, I worried equally about not being there to stand by my wife. There’s only so much support you can provide when you’re not physically present.
Now imagine the burden that would’ve been lifted had I been at a place with unlimited fatherhood leave. Netflix’s new take on parental leave didn’t get us all the way there, but at least the concept no longer feels like wishful thinking. For that, I thank them.