Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
AMERICAN FORK — Three years ago, Lacy Zimmerman was still taking work calls while she was in labor with her first child. After the birth, she wanted to keep her email on and stay connected to work.
With her second, Domo, the company she works for, has given the mothers-to-be it employs a month of paid leave to prepare for birth. It's helped her realize that her work values her enough to let her fully focus on her new baby.
"I was taking calls while contracting and telling team members, 'Hold on a second, I just need to breathe!' This time around, I'm just so grateful because being pregnant on top of a pandemic is a lot," she said. "Mentally it just feels so nice to be able to shut this part of my life down for a bit."
Zimmerman, who is the senior director of integrated marketing at the Utah-based cloud software company, is planning on using her break to rest, get outside, breathe and prepare for the new baby.
In 2020, even during a pandemic that required more of parents than usual, only 20% of private sector workers had access to paid family leave, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an ever-shifting workforce. There was a "shecession" as women stepped away from their jobs to take on more responsibilities at home when child care centers and schools shut down.
There has also been a phenomenon of millions of Americans quitting their jobs that some are calling the "Great Resignation," which has resulted in a labor shortage.
"I feel so grateful that I am supported in all those ways because there are so many areas outside of the industry in our country where people aren't supported the way we need to be. As a society, we need to do better," Zimmerman said.
Hiring new talent and operating a business during such a tumultuous time has meant that companies have to make their employment look more appealing. Some, like Amazon, have done this by raising their minimum wage. Others like Domo have decided to provide more benefits like this one that will draw in more talent as well as provide some needed transition time for both parents-to-be and for the company as it prepares for their departure.
The eighth-month leave policy is one of many other benefits Domo provides for working parents, like an additional 10 weeks of paid maternity leave, two weeks of paid paternity leave, a $1,000 new baby benefit, a $2,000 maternity wardrobe stipend and benefits for adoption and fertility.
"Having a new baby is such a joyful and exciting, and, let's face it, stressful and expensive time in anyone's life. Baby Bucks and our 'Haute Mama' maternity wardrobe benefits are our way of helping to alleviate some of that stress," said Ray Ball, Domo's vice president of human resources. "We've had tremendous response and support for these benefits. These help to take a little burden off the shoulders of our employees so they can focus on who matters: their newborn."
The idea came about when Domo CEO Josh James was talking to a pregnant employee in the office. He asked her when she would be taking her leave, and she told him that she would work right up until her due date so she could have as much time to spend with her baby as possible. James, himself a father of eight, asked himself and his team what more the company could do to support people like her during such an often painful or at least uncomfortable part of pregnancy when there are a lot of physical strains.
For people who give birth early and unexpectedly, any time from the initial leave period will be unused, though the company says that it will work with employees on an individual basis depending on the situation.
"Our eighth-month leave benefit is pretty unique — I don't know of another company that offers it," Ball said.
Ball explained that Domo offers benefits like this because its leaders "are committed to supporting our employees wherever they are in the stages of their lives." Also, he continued, because it helps "to enhance our benefits package to attract and retain talent."
When Zimmerman first started at the company back in 2015, she wasn't sure that she wanted to have children, but she was still drawn to the unique benefits that Domo offered, including those benefits for soon-to-be parents, because, she said, "benefits speak to how companies care about their employees."
And Domo also offers benefits for people who don't have children. Extended leave policies also exist for employees to take care of themselves or other family members. There's also a medical, dental and vision plan, as well as a wellness benefit and 401K match.
"It's not a one-size-fit-all; our benefits reflect the needs and wants of our workforce," Ball said.
Zimmerman said that she has seen parental benefits are becoming more and more common and flexible as time goes on and more and more employees demand more of their companies, like paternity leave and fertility benefits.
"Women still bear so much of the challenge when it comes to being a working parent. There's inequality there for sure. In order to create that equal partnership at home, we do need to push for equality for fathers, too," she said.
Zimmerman had her last day on Friday before starting maternity leave, and now she is focusing on the future and the new life on the way.