As Jason Freidenfelds considered his next career move in 2007, somewhere in the back of his mind, he had already begun to think about parenthood. Though he and his wife, Sabrina, didn’t have their first child, Amelia, until four years later, Jason wanted to find an employer that would help him through that difficult life stage.
“I’ve always wanted to have kids, and I found it super appealing that Google offered really generous benefits for parents, and paternity leave was really unusual at the time,” said Freidenfelds, now a senior PR manager for Google. “This was unusual at the time, and it stood out, and it was very attractive to me, knowing I wanted to have kids.”
After Amelia, now four, and her sister Ella, who is nearing her second birthday, were born, Freidenfelds took a month off from work to support his wife, and another few weeks about half a year later to spend more time with his kids during a key moment in their development.
“I would say the first chunk was more important for Sabrina, the second chunk was more important for the kids,” he said.
For parents working at Google, paid leave is only the start of the benefits they enjoy. Freidenfelds says that Google also provides flexible work schedules that help him better balance his parenting responsibilities, and nurtures a corporate culture where employees are more than willing to pick up the slack when a team member goes on parental leave.
Though the United States remains the only developed nation without guaranteed paid parental leave of any kind, a competitive talent market has caused many organizations to lead the charge.
Fatherly, a lifestyle guide for men entering parenthood, celebrates those organizations in its list of the 50 Best Places to Work for New Dads, released today. Coming out on top was Freidenfelds’s employer, Google, followed in close second by Facebook, which offers an impressive 17 weeks of paid parental leave to its employees.
“They’re neck and neck,” said Simon Isaacs, who cofounded Fatherly when his wife, Liza Lowinger Isaacs, was pregnant with his now 2-month-old daughter, Kaia.
Rounding out the top five are Bank of America in third, Patagonia in fourth, and State Street in fifth place.
While leave time was a key factor, Isaacs points to company culture, work flexibility, family support programs, job security, life insurance, and other unique benefits as key considerations for the rankings. Criteria were based on research by the Boston College Center for Work and Family. Organizations were required to have more than 1,000 employees and provide a minimum of one week of paid paternity leave to be considered.
Some of the more unique policies offered by American employers include the Teladoc service program at Bank of America that lets employees talk to a doctor by phone or video chat for a $40 copay. Goldman Sachs provides a designated coordinator for fathers-to-be who ensures employees are maximizing their kid-specific benefits. American Express hosts a “Fatherhood Breakfast Series” where executives advise employees on maintaining a work-life balance as new fathers.
“I was delighted and admittedly surprised to see how engaged the finance community was,” said Isaacs, adding that the industry represents 22% of the top 50.
While paternity leave has historically received little attention, changing demographics have recently put fathers into focus, and many of the world’s top employers have recognized this shift.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 59% of American families with children had two working parents in 2012. Single dads headed 8% of U.S. households in 2013, a nine-fold increase since 1960, according to a Pew Research study.
Employers may have successfully attracted millennial talent with free lunches and onsite Ping-Pong tables in the past, but millennials now account for 80% of new parents, and their priorities have matured over time.
“I’ve thought a lot about retirement planning and finances, and it really kicked in when I had kids and I started thinking hard about trying to maximize what we were saving,” said Freidenfelds. “It’s also something that makes me confident about staying at Google. They’re on a track to continue offering better and smarter benefits.”
Isaacs too felt his priorities change as soon as his daughter was born, and suspects many new fathers experience a similar transition.
“When you have that child in your hand, a lot of your responsibilities, focus, time management–you really begin to shift those in very dramatic ways,” he said. “Companies that understand that and see that and are adapting to that are top of the list.”