Startups often provide market-leading, parent-friendly employee benefits, like generous paid parental leave, flexible hours, and great workplaces. However, startups also don’t always have a reputation for being family friendly, which we think is a shame.
Teachable is an edtech and ecommerce startup in NYC, and in order to better understand what it’s like to be a working parent, we interviewed four employees who have children. We learned about how parenting impacts their work, what companies can do to support parents in the workplace, and more!
Becoming a new parent 🍼
At every startup, there’s always someone who is the first parent, and for Teachable that was Sid, our VP of Product. Sid was one of the company’s first hires in 2014, and was the fifth person at the company. “I was a little concerned at first, but ended up having no trouble taking certain mornings off to make trips with my wife to the OB-GYN.”
In typical Teachable fashion, Sid immediately took to Slack when his daughter was born. “When my wife gave birth, one of the first things I did was Slack the #general channel from the delivery room. I remember wanting to share the emotion and excitement with co-workers, who felt like my other family at the time.”
Sid shares the news in Slack 💬
Several months after his daughter was born, the entire company (then 8 people!) took a trip to visit Sid and his family. “I still remember the day when the entire startup of 8 decided to visit my apartment to meet my wife and kid. Most of them held (and thankfully didn’t drop) her.”
Sid and his daughter on a trip this year ✈️
Other parents we spoke with had different experiences entering parenthood. Tabitha, our VP of Finance, didn’t feel welcomed when she had her daughter 10 years ago, before she started at Teachable. “I think, generally speaking, the workplace was a lot different. I started going back to the office a week after my daughter was born and was back full-time within a month of giving birth.” She also noted that the reception you get from the office can have a big impact. “I definitely felt that I was ‘under suspicion’ and that I had to prove to everyone that I could still be a productive contributor while also being a parent.”
How becoming a parent impacts the way you work 💼
Becoming a parent changes everything, not just how you work. Brit, our Customer Care Manager, explained how she’d always been a hard worker but that having a child was such an awesome responsibility that it impacted every decision she’d made — because when you’re a parent, it’s not just yourself that’s affected. “In other words, I can’t be a carefree 20-something with the ability to make mistakes and time to pick myself back up again. I need to think about my son and what he needs, and that changes how you view your day to day and particularly as a single mother, it intensified the ‘hustle.’”
Tabitha with her daughter, in Teachable swag 👕
As children get older and become more perceptive, they start to ask questions about the company you work for and your role. Some parents, like Tabitha, spoke about how their children’s questions had made them think more about the importance of modelling behavior. “As a woman/mother, having a child, especially a daughter, has forced me to think a lot about how what I do at work models behavior for my daughter. When I come home and my daughter asks, ‘What did you do today?’ or ‘What does Teachable do and what do you do there?’ I want to be able to explain what I do, and who I do it for and with and feel like those are things that would be good examples for my child.”
Another way that parenthood has an impact on work is a sense of camaraderie with fellow parents at the office, and an increased understanding of what other parents can be going through. Tabitha said that “if a co-worker’s child is sick or having a hard time with something you definitely feel for that person and have a more intuitive understanding of how that might impact their demeanor and ability to focus on work.”
Sid, the first Teachadad, agrees that there’s strength in numbers. As time has passed, more parents have joined the company and today it feels a lot more natural to be a parent at Teachable. “When I was the first parent at Teachable, I couldn’t have imagined us having so many parents that we’d be organizing ‘bring your kids to work’ days every few months.”
What it’s like being a parent at Teachable 🚸
At Teachable we’re focused on making the work/parent/life balance as easy as we can. Many parents cite the office environment and work flexibility as being a big help with parenting. Brit said, “A lot is culture. I am fortunate that Teachable has a flexible work schedule where I can work from home, so that is helpful when emergencies do happen. That is probably one of the biggest plus’s.”
Brit and her son hanging out in the office!
Other parents, like William, a Data Analyst, also highlighted the importance of flexibility. “Work time has become more fluid in a way. The ability to have a schedule that allows me to work from home or leave early or arrive late really helps me, since my wife also works.” Not only did becoming a parent impact his concept of work time, it also changed his priorities. “Taking care of myself being sick was really never important to me, no good, I know, but taking time off to care for my daughter is priority to me.”
William and his daughter at bring your child to work day 🏢
When it comes to the company’s culture, Tabitha agrees that flexibility in the day-to-day is important to parents. “For example, I drop my daughter off at school every morning and then head to work which means I’m generally in the office around 8.30am. I usually leave the office around 6.30pm so that I can spend time with my family.” For employees who to prefer to start and end later, they have that option, too. “We all respect each other’s preferences.”
Tabitha also noted how a company’s vacation and holiday policy matters. “School aged children have A LOT of breaks — probably more than you remember as a child!” and that our vacation has enabled her to “take time off to spend with my daughter during most of her extended vacations,” allowing her family to travel and build experiences together.
Benefits at Teachable 🏥
After speaking with some of the parents at Teachable, we realized how important culture and benefits are to working parents, and how fortunate we are to have a leadership team that has fully supported both. Our paid parental leave policy, which is separate from medical leave for pregnancy, is very competitive, with 16 weeks of parental leave for all full-time employees for the birth or adoption of a child, available over the first three years. 8 of the 16 weeks must be used in the first year, and parental leave is fully paid after you have three months of employment. Beyond parental leave for new employees, we also offer flexible work hours, sick leave for taking care of your child (and yourself), and great health insurance for individuals and families.
Special thanks to Tabitha, Brit, Sid and William for sharing their experiences and photos with us in this post! 🙇