The Dirty Little Secret About Family Leave

The Dirty Little Secret About Family Leave

Even as work-life policies at companies like Netflix get better on paper, they go mostly unused in practice.

That was our hunch—and a study from and McKinsey & Co. proves it.



Get started with a free financial assessment.

More than 90% of both women and men believe they’ll take a career hit. They're worried about looking less committed than their peers.

So while most of the 118 companies surveyed offer flexible work programs, only a fraction of workers take advantage. Just 4% opt for extended maternity leave, for instance, while 7% sign up for a sabbatical.

But flexible policies are a big hit with those few who go out on a limb to use them: about three-quarters of telecommuters and workers with reduced schedules say the arrangements make a big impact.

And that suggests corporate culture has some serious catching up to do.

What It Means for Women in the Workplace

The survey analysts don't sugarcoat it: our collective fear of using programs meant to improve work-life balance hits women especially hard.

That's partially because women still have more work waiting at home. Among senior managers, 30% say they do more chores than their partners and 27% do more childcare. And those rates are even higher among entry-level women.

Motherhood isn't necessarily holding back ambition, though. One of the more striking findings is that moms are 15% more interested in becoming execs than the child-less.

But gender can become a sticking point when it comes to actually advancing—surveyed women, regardless of family status, say that the workplace still feels skewed toward men.

Looking Ahead ...

The researchers offer up a few suggestions for improving workplace culture, including rethinking performance reviews, highlighting successful examples of flexible leave-taking, and encouraging mentorship and diversity programs.

If you're looking for ways to boost your work-life balance in the meantime, consider the sanity-saving hacks that have worked for these six people.


Financial planning made simple.

Get your free financial assessment.

Related Tags

Get the latest in your inbox.

Subscription failed!

You're Now Subscribed!