Amer­i­can Ex­press’ concierge pro­gram helps new par­ents ad­just

The fi­nan­cial gi­ant aims to ease con­cerns of new moms and dads by pro­vid­ing guid­ance on its leave pro­gram

Employee Benefit News - - CONTENTS - BY PHIL AL­BI­NUS

The fi­nan­cial gi­ant aims to ease the con­cerns of new moms and dads by pro­vid­ing guid­ance on its leave pro­gram.

Amer­i­can Ex­press has es­tab­lished a concierge pro­gram to help em­ploy­ees who are new par­ents take ad­van­tage of the firm’s parental leave pro­gram.

The fi­nan­cial gi­ant of­fers 20 weeks of paid parental leave to moth­ers and fa­thers who are full and part-time work­ers of the com­pany, ac­cord­ing to Tammy Yee, Amer­i­can Ex­press’ vice pres­i­dent of ben­e­fits and mo­bil­ity, who spoke re­cently at EBN’s Ben­e­fits Fo­rum & Expo in Boca Ra­ton, Fla.

To help em­ploy­ees dur­ing a stress­ful time of new ad­just­ments, Amer­i­can Ex­press es­tab­lished a par­ent concierge pro­gram this year to help em­ploy­ees with what Yee calls “the ABCs around parental leave.”

The concierge is tasked with an­swer­ing ques­tions and eas­ing con­cerns of new par­ents. They not only of­fer ad­vice to nurs­ing moth­ers, they also help man­agers and su­per­vi­sors in­ter­act with par­ents about the new chal­lenges that may im­pact their work­load, Yee said.

The par­ent concierge can ad­dress is­sues rang­ing from, “‘I’m just start­ing to think about start­ing a fam­ily’ or ‘I’m preg­nant with my sec­ond child’ to ‘what ex­actly is a leave, what do I have in terms of health ben­e­fits and fi­nan­cial well­ness ben­e­fits and then all the way to com­ing back to work,’” she said.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant to have ac­cess to some­one with those an­swers so that when you’re al­ready back to work or you are com­ing back, you un­der­stand your op­tions,” Yee said.

The concierge also can work as an in­for­mal li­ai­son be­tween the par­ent and their man­ager.

“We have a num­ber of pro­grams and guidelines for work­ers and their lead­ers, and this is of­ten a miss­ing fac­tor in the equa­tion … that when the em­ploy­ees go on leave, there is an im- pact to the team,” she said.

“Some lead­ers don’t know how to han­dle cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, like, ‘How do I han­dle my team mem­bers want­ing to take a break for nurs­ing in the lac­ta­tion room, and how do I talk about the work­load?’” she said.

The par­ent concierge can reach out to the em­ployee and the man­ager and es­tab­lish some guidelines, ac­cord­ing to Yee. Amer­i­can Ex­press hires lac­ta­tion ex­perts, for ex­am­ple, to help new moth­ers sched­ule and man­age their nurs­ing rou­tines.

The par­ent concierge also can help a new mother an­swer any ques­tions about eas­ing into work and solv­ing new child­care con­cerns. This ser­vice also is avail­able to par­ents who are adopt­ing and need to take time when the child en­ters the em­ployee’s life for the first time.

Yee says the new pro­grams have helped with com­pany morale. She noted the men­tal, phys­i­cal ben­e­fits, and the fact that when new moth­ers take longer leaves, it re­duces the oc­cur­rence of post­par­tum de­pres­sion.

“Par­ents are com­ing back to the work­force more pro­duc­tive and more loyal to the com­pany,” she said, not­ing that it’s also im­por­tant for new fa­thers to get time off as well.

Amer­i­can Ex­press isn’t the only com­pany that has ex­panded parental ben­e­fits this year.

Ho­tel chain Wal­dorf As­to­ria ex­tended fam­ily leave ser­vices this year, ac­cord­ing to Maria Burns, di­rec­tor of HR, Boca Ra­ton Re­sort and Club, a Wal­dorf As­to­ria Re­sort, who also spoke at the panel ses­sion.

“We were re­spond­ing to the sur­vey re­sponse from our team mem­bers,” she said. “We didn’t know much about parental leave and adop­tion, and we have cre­ated paid leave and adop­tion ser­vice pro­grams.”

So far, the em­ploy­ees have re­sponded pos­i­tively to the new parental pro­grams, Burns said, re­fer­ring to the “Boca Ba­bies” who have been part of the pro­gram.

“Par­ents are com­ing back to the work­force more pro­duc­tive and more loyal to the com­pany.”

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