One silver lining of the pandemic is that many organizations recognize the need to do more for their workforce when it comes to supporting working parents—helping employees balance work, parenting responsibilities, breastfeeding goals and more. Additionally, the newest generations of employees in the workforce continue to demonstrate that an organization’s overall company culture is an increasingly important element, and benefits that support their lifestyle beyond work contribute significantly to their choice of employer.
Given this, and the current economic challenges that are making recruiting employees more difficult, it’s never been more important for employers to focus attention on retaining their female workforce, and focus on developing breastfeeding-friendly benefits that can help attract parenting women back to the workforce. As we head into 2022 here are a few ideas to help organizations get started.
Start With an Evaluation of Your Organization
The first thing employers should do is evaluate their company to determine if they have the right mix of benefits in place to support their working, breastfeeding population. We’ve put together a handy guide: How to Conduct a Corporate Self-Evaluation that offers a list of items to include as you evaluate your organization. You can begin by reviewing current breastfeeding regulations for compliance and visiting your designated lactation space(s) to see if it meets the standards you and your employees expect.
Another great way to determine how well you are doing when it comes to supporting parents, is to simply ask your employees! We’ve made this easy by pre-writing a set of survey questions you can use as a starting point, and customize the content to fit your organization’s current offerings. We are sure you will find the responses useful for learning what your new parents need from you as they integrate new parenting responsibilities with their work life. Visit our Resource Center and scroll down to the Employee Survey Templates. They’re available in Word, Google doc or PDF formats.
Develop a Formal Lactation Accommodation Policy
Once you’ve conducted an evaluation of your organization, you are ready to create a formal Lactation Accommodation Policy (if you don’t already have one). A Lactation Accommodation Policy clarifies expectations across an organization, demonstrates legal compliance and celebrates support for working families. If you already have a policy in place, you’ll want to review it and adjust as necessary to reflect any post-COVID changes. If you don’t have a policy yet, check out this blog by our partners at Mamava on How to Write a Lactation Accommodation Policy. This article also includes links to sample policies you can review as you get started.
Create a Comfortable Lactation Space
Once you develop a formal policy, you can turn to creating a comfortable lactation space that complies with federal and local laws. Whether you already have a lactation space, or are creating one for the first time, it’s important that you create spaces that are safe, clean and dignified for your employees.
The Break Time for Nursing Mothers law requires employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide basic accommodations for breastfeeding mothers at work. These accommodations include reasonable break time and a private, secure space that is not a bathroom for non-exempt (hourly) employees each time they need to pump. Beyond these bare minimum protections, consider adding some of the smaller touches that can make a huge difference. In a recent survey, 20% of new moms said that the best employer benefit would be a lactation space stocked with some supplies! (1)
To help organizations create a space that supports working parents, we’ve created a helpful Lactation Space Guide with everything you need to know in order to create a comfortable and efficient space for your employees. From knowing what’s required by law to actually creating the space, our guide gives you a detailed outline of what an ideal room would offer. Providing a relaxing and calm space for working women is one clear way to show them you are focusing on creating equitable spaces for their unique needs as new mothers. Our friends and partner at Mamava also shared 4 Tips for Lactation Room Design.
As we kick off 2022, now is a perfect time to evaluate your organization and determine how you are doing when it comes to supporting breastfeeding parents—and get in touch with our experts to learn how we might support you!
New Moms’ Healthy Returns Survey: Working Moms Want Better Breastfeeding Support from their Employer, March 2020