How paternity leave helped one dad who loves his work appreciate the “actual value” of his time, bringing more intention to his career and family
A self-proclaimed “office guy”, Sean Glavin loves his work. He enjoys investing time to help his team or organization achieve a common goal - and even liked his commute! So when his first child was born, he had to look at being a team player and leader differently.
Having kids helped Sean focus on the actual value of his time at work and at home. He’s now more intentional about how and where he invests.
Preparing for leave made him a more efficient and effective delegator, so his teams were well-prepared to keep projects on track with minimal involvement. He also strategically planned his transition back to work by keeping his schedule free for the first week back in the office.
Sean’s intentional approach to working parenthood has made him a role model for colleagues at Lockton Companies and in the Boston HR Council, which he co-founded in 2020.
Seeing a top-level executive taking full family time helps normalize it – and after winning a major company award the year after his twins were born, his achievements prove that it’s possible to take leave while still excelling at work.
Seans says his experience offers validation that the approach he took with parental leave was right, and hopes that witnessing a quintessential office guy turn into a successful working dad encourages other parents to feel confident they can do the same.
Read Sean’s full Q&A below to see what he learned from two paternity leaves and how Lockton’s parent-forward philosophy helped him excel as a parent, a spouse and a colleague.
Can you share a brief professional summary that provides context about your work situation immediately preceding having children through today?
“I’ve always enjoyed working and putting in time and effort towards a common goal. Whether that was on a project, or more broadly - to impact a team or an organization - I’ve always enjoyed being “at work.” Once I had my daughter Lacey (and subsequently sons Jax and Jayce), I’ve continued the same passion for the time and effort in impacting projects, teams, and organizations - but now am very cognizant of the “opportunity cost” associated with work vs. family.”
What did you do in preparation for parental leave to help set yourself up for longer term career success?
“As someone that’s been responsible for multiple business processes or teams, working to ensure those processes and teams were prepared to operate without me (or someone in my role) was most important to be able to enjoy parental leave. I also made sure I was comfortable with those processes and teams being handled by someone(s) else.”
What mistakes did you make? Are there things you wish you had done differently before, during or after your parental leave?
“All of the teams I’ve ever worked on have been very high functioning. I’m very lucky for that. I was probably a bit overbearing or over-detailed in offloading/leaning on some of the above mentioned functions when I should have just trusted the folks on the team. It would have saved them time, and provided me more peace of mind!”
What was the most challenging part of taking parental leave and how did you address or overcome it?
“Actually taking the time. Our world is set up so that everyone can “stay connected” if they want to, which made it hard for me to disconnect from work entirely. I allowed myself a few “check-ins” to keep myself sane, but also “check-ins” only for myself - not for the teams covering for me.”
What worked really well in your re-onboarding experiences? What helped you feel good and up to speed faster?
“Keeping the first week back totally open - i.e. no meetings or travel - so I could get up-to-speed in certain areas, meet new people and get back into my routine.”
What did your manager or company do that was really helpful to your success transitioning back to work?
“They were very supportive, but I’d say it was more about what they didn’t do (like not requiring travel or having meeting expectations right away) that was the most impactful.”
What is one professional achievement that you’re most proud of since becoming a parent and why?
“Being awarded Lockton’s President’s Award for 2022 was really cool because it was coming off of the year that my twin boys were born in the middle of the pandemic. Winning the award was validation that the approach I took with parental leave was “right” and didn’t impact recognition for the work I contributed to with all of the amazing things we did for Lockton clients.”
Many parents say that once they had children their “bar” became higher. They no longer tolerated wasteful work, unproductive meetings, etc. What else would you say changed as it relates to your career or work style once you had kids?
“ I focus more on the actual value of my time. Knowing that I’m a working dad already limits how much time I’m able to spend with my family, I’m much more intentional with all work-related things: office time, business travel, networking events, etc.”
What boundaries do you maintain as it relates to work/home? How have these boundaries shifted over time?
“I struggled with this during COVID, but my commute has always been my ON/OFF switch. I use that time to prepare and unwind from the work day to be sure I’m using the time at home as focused on my family as possible.”
If you could give another parent [in a similar position as you] one piece of advice leading up to their parental leave, what would it be?
“If you don’t get the family (parent & spouse, if it applies) stuff right, then what the heck are we working for? Take care of your priorities!”
Tell us a little about the Boston HR Council. What it is, why you started it and how it helps your local community?
“The BHRC is an HR executive community that started out as 50 CHROs in Boston, but has grown to 750+ HR executives in New England and all over the U.S. We started it based on the needs of a couple dozen friends and clients, and it’s unique in the sense that it’s a strictly peer-to-peer community when HR executives have needed it most.”
You’re in a unique position through Lockton and the BHRC to hear from HR leaders about what they believe are the most important employee benefits. In your opinion, where does parental leave fall on the list?
“Employee benefits are such a broad topic now that this one is hard to answer. In helping build some amazing programs for some world class clients, I can say that parental leave is high on the list, especially as more and more organizations use paid leave as a competitive differentiator. Most important will always be how these benefits and programs are communicated to all employees to ensure working parents take advantage of them.”
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