The workforce is drastically different than it once was. Gone are the days of Don Draper-style gender breakdowns at work, where moms stayed home and dads hardly took care of kids. It’s not so much that things have reversed but that they’ve merged.
According to the 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, 97.4% of married-couple families with children had at least one employed parent and 65% of families had both parents employed.
While the number of working parents has increased in the last decade, their priorities and goals have also changed in that time. Particularly in the last few years, with the pandemic being a driving force for parents to seek out a quality of life improvement and better work life balance.
Flexibility is one of the top needs for working parents—the Summer 2022 Future Forum Pulse survey saw that the desire for flexibility with working parents has only been increasing since 2020. Specifically, 60% of working mothers (up from 58%) and 50% of working fathers (up from 48%) would like to work remotely 3 to 5 days per week.
Here at Giant Machines, the wellbeing of our employees has always been at the forefront. This is especially true when it comes to helping our working parents maintain their family balance while still achieving their career goals.
The GM parenting mindset
When it comes to working parents, the introduction of flexible working hours and hybrid office options means they can more actively be a part of their kids’ lives. And they don’t want to have to give that up now.
“Before Covid, I never really saw my girls before I went to work,” says HR Coordinator Noelia Dominguez, a mom to Elah, 7, and Leah, 17. “Now I get to wake up with my girls, make breakfast for my girls, I can take my little one to school every day, and the quality of life is much better now.”
Balancing work is tricky as a parent, and at Giant Machines, employees are trusted to get their work done with flexibility in place for caregivers.
“Some tech companies I know are extremely demanding in terms of crunch time. There are very tight timelines, and you have to keep working until midnight,” says Software Engineer Ako Sorensen, who has a daughter Freya, 3, and a son Aksel, who is nine months old. “That’s not the type of work life that parents can easily pull off, so I wanted to make sure that the company I work for is supportive of parents.”
The GM way of working for parents
Let’s not shy away from the fact that the U.S. is not known for their generous parental leave laws. Outside of any state mandated policy, it’s typically up to the company itself to create their own leave policies, with the average length of paid leave being just four weeks.
Even so, companies are scaling back on the leave they offer—according to a 2022 SHRM study, organizations that offer paid maternity leave dropped to 35% (from 53% in 2020) and those that offer paid paternity leave dropped to 27% (from 44%).
By contrast, Giant Machines offers 16 weeks of paid leave for all genders, which includes birth, adoption, caregiving, and other familial needs for time off.
It’s important to note that the leadership at GM has only enhanced this policy as the company has grown—adjusting it based on feedback from employees and their own experiences as parents.
“I will say that in going through the process and working with everyone at the company, I felt very taken care of in that scenario,” says Lead Software Engineer Charlie Cook, who’s been working at Giant Machines throughout the birth of his two children, Oliver, 4 and Theo, 2. “I think that one of the reasons why I’ve been at GM for as long as I’ve been here is because I’ve felt that the leadership genuinely do reconsider their positions on the way that things are and genuinely do care about the employee and their work life balance.”
It’s not simply the generous parental leave policy that’s a bonus for parents, but also the hybrid office flexibility and volunteer time opportunities that allows employees to spend more time with their families—without the guilt.
“Since I’ve started working here, I’ve never felt guilty asking my boss if I could step out for a little for my kids,” says Ako.
It goes beyond flexible work hours to attend to last minute needs. It’s also about maintaining a family lifestyle, especially if people may be transitioning into the tech space from a different field.
“Before I started working for GM, I was teaching and had quite a bit of free time to volunteer at my daughter’s school. And luckily, through working with GM, I’m still able to do that,” says Software Engineer Marsha Annon, whose daughter Yerrhum is 13. “We have a certain amount of volunteer time off that we can use per year and I can use that time at my daughter’s school to chaperone their events.”
Career growth and team support
Giant Machines is all about collaboration, and this doesn’t start and stop with the projects we work on for our clients. This also includes internal support from managers and team members that provides working parents with the understanding that they can be active parents while still working towards their career goals.
Working parents at GM know that they can come back from a few days off or from a longer leave knowing that their career growth is still safe and important. Charlie says that he’s always recognized GM’s CEO Roy Yang and CTO Frank Cantelmi balancing work and family.
“Even before I had a child, Frank or Roy would say, ‘I gotta go and do this thing with my kids’,” Charlie says. “And they are running this company. So, I felt like I could have children and do whatever it is I needed to do. I’ve never felt like I couldn’t achieve something because I had to deal with child-related stuff.”
At Giant Machines, it’s not just about having flexibility with hours and time off. It’s also about having that support when you’re at work as well.
“I don’t know what I would do without GM because the company has a different perspective and such a supportive community that you can talk to your peers about parenting stuff,” says Operations Manager Aaron Bonner, whose daughter Mila is 1. “It’s not therapy, but it feels very therapeutic to be able to talk amongst the team. I’m looking at it through that lens, like I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Having the proper policies in place is not the only way we aim to make working parents feel supported—it’s also about leading by example from the top-down. In fact, all of the C-Suites here at GM are parents and they’re showing employees firsthand how to take time off for their families. This leadership filters down to management and team members as well.
Working parents at Giant Machines can not only feel, but see, the support from the leadership directly, especially when they are transparent about using the leave policies themselves.
“I think it’s philosophical and value-based,” explains Software Engineer Johnny Araujo who has an infant daughter named Nayeli. “The C-Suite tries to take a human-centered approach to not only how we conduct ourselves through the business, but also how we conduct ourselves internally as an organization. It’s one of those things where it’s cool to talk the talk, but let’s actually walk the walk and set an example.”