Making the business case for parental leave programs

Apr 17, 2024

In most organizations, HR professionals are responsible for the employee experience of parental leave. And while the length of the paid leave policy is important, there are other factors  to account for. 

Today, more and more companies are focusing on how to support parental leave transitions to ensure their employees - and the business - don’t face career and business disruption as a result of their paid leave policy.

We interviewed Jessica Winder, an HR leader and author of The Hidden Gem Within, who successfully made the business case for investing in parental leave transition support.

She saw the value in offering expecting employees career coaching to help them prepare for this life transition as it relates to their careers, while providing managers with training to teach them the role they play in their direct report’s experience.

Here’s how she did it.

Step 1: Define the problem, then look for a solution 

After 13+ years as an HR leader, Jessica knew the number one problem with parental leave was that after employees take their leave, they have a really difficult time coming back to work.

Once her company increased the paid parental leave policy, she knew she also needed to invest in career support to make it easier for employees to return - while also ensuring the business would run smoothly in their absence.

This is where she discovered Parentaly as a viable solution:

“I instantly knew when I heard about [Parentaly], I thought, oh, this is amazing. I knew it was important because we wanted people that were leaving to come back…you're coaching people, you’re giving people resources - and not just them, but their managers.”

Step 2: Present data when pitching leadership 

Cost is a primary driver of whether a business will decide to implement a paid parental leave program. Although she faced resistance, Jessica pushed back on the “we can’t afford it” mentality:

“We cannot afford not to do it because how much does it cost you to replace these said people?,” she recalls debating with her leadership team. “I very strongly leaned in on, ‘If we don't do this, these people will leave.’” 

But she knew that wasn’t enough.

So she researched what her competitors were offering and used that as a baseline to offer longer paid parental leave. She also built a business case to show how Parentaly programming would reduce business disruption and post-leave attrition.

Her approach was similar to what we outlined in our free template, which many HR leaders and working parent advocates have used to make the business case for policy change. 

Step 3: Use employee feedback to show the ROI of the program

While not every HR leader will personally use every benefit they invest in, understanding how to measure positive ROI is an important part of the buying process.

In Jessica’s case, we got lucky because she utilized the program herself when she got pregnant with twins.

As both an HR leader and expecting parent, she saw how valuable it was to support the parental leave experience - for herself, but also her direct report, manager and entire leadership team.



In addition to the 1:1 career coaching she received to guide her through parental leave planning, she found the Parentaly Toolkit incredibly helpful. 

It included resources and templates for parts of the parental leave experience that she hadn’t considered, which resulted in her team being fully prepared for her leave:

“With my coach, we documented all the templates. I absolutely utilized them. We wrote everything down. Everything was in writing. The timeframes were ready. When I texted my team and said, ‘Hey, I'm on the way to the hospital.’ they were like, ‘Got it. Good. We have all the documents. Like we have folders. We had everything that we needed.’”

Beyond her personal experience, we worked closely with Jessica to share how our career coaching and manager training were bringing positive ROI to the rest of her employees by presenting data on productivity, engagement and retention collected at each stage of the program.

These are a few of the reasons why Jessica says implementing Parentaly was a great decision: 

“I'd do it again,” she said. “I plan to do it again, any company I go to.”

To hear more from Jessica on her parental leave experience and how she made the business case for parental leave policy enhancements, listen to full episode of The False Tradeoff!