Parental Leave Plan: The Secret to Reducing Turnover and Burnout

by Lacey Kempinski, Founder + CEO Balanced Good

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Whether you are staring at a cluttered physical desk or an endless to-do list in your outlook inbox, it’s no secret that being a leader in the social impact sector is hard. You live and breathe your mission and words like compassion fatigue, martyrdom, and burnout become all too real.

So, naturally, when you hear the words “I’m pregnant and need to plan for my parental leave” from one of your all-star team members, your heart skips a beat, and your panic begins to rise.

Planning for a parental leave, and the 12-to-18-month employment gap that comes with it is no easy feat. But with a sector made up of 77% women, parental leave is an inevitable and frequent occurrence. Not to mention the many parents, fathers, and partners who are opting to also participate in the parental leave journey.

Too often, parental leave planning becomes a last-minute afterthought, leaving more work and stress on the plates of you and your (often already overworked) team members. And unfortunately, the aftermath of a poorly planned parental leave often results in turnover and burnout amongst your team – slowing down your mission-focused work.

So, how do we change this? How do we reframe parental leaves in the social impact sector? How do we make parental leaves a celebrated life milestone instead of a feared employment gap?

With a plan.

Whether it’s a plan you create in-house with your team, one you hire an outside consultant to help you manage, or one you use some free resources to guide you through, you need a strong plan to cover the 12-to-18-month employment gap that is coming your way. The last thing you, or your team needs, is more work on your team’s plate.

Here are the top five things you need to consider while creating the plan:

1. What are the priority deadlines and projects for the next 12-to-18-months?2. Who will do this work? Will you hire someone traditionally, work with a consultant that specializes in parental leave coverage, or promote someone internally (which means you will have to backfill that role)?
3. What needs to be done to ensure the person going on leave feels valued, supported, and seen in their return to work? (This will help reduce post-leave turnover rates)
4. What relationships need to be transitioned, internally and externally, to ensure consistency in the work being covered?
5. What tools and systems do you need in place to manage this transition period?

If you’ve recently heard the words “I’m expecting” from a team member, now is the time to begin creating a plan. And, if you don’t have the capacity to do this internally, now is the time to reach out to an expert to help you navigate this transitionary time within your organization. The cost of a well-thought-out plan will far outweigh the expense of missed deadlines and staff turnover.

About Lacey Kempinski, Founder + CEO Balanced Good

“Hi, I’m Lacey (she/her), the founder of Balanced Good. As a mom of three, I get how challenging it can be to build a career as a leader in the charitable sector while balancing the demands of parenthood. Initially, Balanced Good was established to help me find some semblance of balance.”