Parental leave hit a tipping point last year, as numerous big-name firms expanded paid time off for new moms and dads. But top-notch benefits are still far from becoming the norm.
Just 21 percent of companies offered paid maternity leave in 2015, and 17 percent offered paid paternity leave. That same year, Netflix, Facebook and Goldman Sachs made headlines when they announced generous packages for employees seeking to spend time with their new families. So did Microsoft, Credit Suisse and Adobe, as the tech and finance industries continued to beef up their already above-average leave polices.
Tech and finance workers seem pretty happy with their benefits -- and why shouldn't they be? Employees in those two sectors give high ratings to their maternity and paternity leave options, according to career site Glassdoor, which recently analyzed data on corporate benefits across various industries.
Finance workers rated their parental leave benefits 3.77 out of 5, and tech employees followed with a 3.71 rating -- the best scores of any sector examined by Glassdoor. The lowest-rated leave policies were in health care (3.36), retail (3.41) and business services (3.42).
Of course, tech and finance workers are well-compensated even before benefits kick in. Base salaries in the banking industry are around $80,000, and those for software engineers start from around $100,000.
When an employee's income “gets beyond a certain level, they look for things beyond a paycheck,” Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor, told The Huffington Post. “They start to worry about maternity and paternity leave, vacation time and bringing their dog to work.”
That's not to say people who are paid less don't value parental leave options. And as more companies rally in support of working parents, it may give a boost to parental leave policies across the corporate world.
“There’s pack mentality in terms of benefits,” Chamberlain said. “Visible players have taken a lead and made parental leave a standard benefit, and it’s really put a flag in the sand.”
However, as wages stagnate, it’s become more common for employers to instead dole out perks and benefits. Benefits increased by 60 percent over the last 15 years, compared to wage growth of just 40 percent. The move reflects a changing workforce that increasingly values flexibility and health insurance, but it also suggests that companies are still reluctant to hand out bigger paychecks to their employees.
For examples, having free snacks at the office is one of the best-rated perks across industries in Glassdoor's survey. Tech employees rated their snack options a 4.06, followed by high ratings from business services (3.94) and manufacturing (3.90).
“It has become a hot perk in certain quarters,” Chamberlain said.
As abundant and appetizing as they may be, though, free green juice and snacks shouldn’t replace benefits that are actually substantial. Those perks are ultimately much cheaper than health care, paid time off and dollar-for-dollar 401(k) matching.
The findings from Glassdoor’s study, however, seem to indicate that many companies are still successfully luring employees with free food. And that, sadly, is consistent with a recent report that found young workers are more likely to get free food from their employer than medical and dental insurance.