Parental leave

Mar 07, 2021

A good, standardized parental leave policy is a major benefit that can set your firm apart.

When writing an article for The Zweig Letter, I write about subjects I either have experience with or have great data about, often using both my own personal experience and data to back me up. I recognize that not every AEC company is the same and no two careers are identical. Each person has aspects of their life, company, experience, and career path that makes them unique. I am lucky enough to work with a wide range of people in the AEC industry and get to analyze a wide range of topics through Zweig Group’s research, data collection, and advisory services. I want to focus on one topic in particular for this article because I was recently lucky enough to have experienced the benefits of it firsthand. That is parental leave.

In September, my wife and I were lucky enough to welcome our first child. To say that this was the most life-changing event in my life would be an understatement. I am lucky enough to work for a company that recognizes the significance of welcoming a child into your family and what a change that brings.

In the preceding months and weeks, we were getting ourselves ready to go. I was trying to make sure I had everything squared away at work on top of getting things ready at home. That included talking to the leadership in our company about taking parental leave and what that might look like. I had myself convinced that after one week, maybe two, I would be ready to get back into work. If you are a parent and reading this, you know how wrong that thinking was. Within the first couple of days, I realized I was not going to just jump right back into my normal work routine so quickly. Thankfully, I had a team around me that could step up and take on some of my responsibilities and give me the much needed time to welcome our baby and adjust to our new normal.

Getting that time off to spend with my family was so important to me and I am so thankful for that opportunity. However, like I said earlier, I recognize that not every person’s situation is the same. Let’s take a look at how the AEC industry’s Best Firms To Work For are handling parental leave.

Seventy-six percent of firms now have a formalized parental leave plan. That number has increased over the last several years. It is up from 74 percent in 2019 and around 70 percent in 2018. This shows that companies are recognizing that this is something that is not only of interest to their employees, but is a major benefit that can set them apart.

Employees are recognizing this effort as well. Data fluctuates too much from year to year, but employee satisfaction with parental leave has been one of the most improved areas since 2018. A 6 percent increase in satisfaction, among more than 12,000 respondents, with parental leave as one of the highest upticks in the entire data pool. The average increase or decrease for any data point is less than 1 percent, so you can see the significance of the changes that have been made.

Six percent more firms have a standardized parental leave policy and there has been a 6 percent increase in employee satisfaction with parental leave. This might just be a coincidence, but I don’t believe that. I think parental leave is becoming a more important benefit for people, especially among millennials.

Firms are always looking for ways to stand out and find an edge in recruitment and retention. I think having a good, standardized parental leave plan is a major step firms can take. It shows that you not only care about your employees’ careers, but you are invested in their life outside of work as well. I know from experience that it was a truly amazing benefit and it seems as though the best firms to work for in the industry and their employees would agree.

Kyle Ahern is awards manager at Zweig Group. Contact him at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.