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Special Report

9 Small Businesses Leading The Way For New Dads In 2016

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Fatherly’s 50 Best Places To Work For New Dads celebrates the remarkable progress some large companies have made in creating family-friendly work environments for parents — but the companies on that list have no problem absorbing the real costs, in terms of dollars and man hours, these benefits create. But the vast majority of business in the U.S. have fewer than 500 employees, and the smaller a company’s workforce, the more challenging it can be to accommodate new fathers. Still, scrappy, innovative small businesses all over the country are figuring it out. Here are 9 that prove you don’t have to be huge to treat your employees like the big guys.

Change.Org

Change.org

Change.org

  • Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
  • Number of employees: 300
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 18 weeks
  • Industry: Media

Change.org lets people everywhere initiate and support social causes, but the employees didn’t need to start a petition to get a leave policy that bests all but 2 companies on the 50 Best list.

Notable Father-Friendly Policies And Practices

  • You’d expect Change.org to have solid progressive bonafides, and you’d be right: Since its leave policy has gone into effect, it’s been taken advantage of by more of the staff’s fathers than mothers.
  • In addition to 5 weeks of PTO, the company doesn’t track sick time and views things like pre- and ante-natal classes the same way it views doctor’s appointments: you gotta do what you gotta do (so, sorry, but that means you have to do them).

Laughing Planet Cafe

  • Headquarters: Portland, OR
  • Number of employees: 278
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 12 weeks
  • Industry: Food

A small player in the exploding healthy fast food category, Laughing Planet has over a dozen restaurants in Oregon and Nevada where any employee working 24 hours a week has access to paid leave.

Notable Father-Friendly Policies And Practices

  • Laughing Planet’s CEO says that the company’s leave policy makes solid business sense: Babies who aren’t forced into daycare when they’re just a few weeks old are ultimately healthier, which means parents ultimately take far fewer sick days to care for them.
  • Like a few of the big companies on the 50 Best, Laughing Planet lets its staff apportion their 12 weeks of leave however they see fit during their kid’s first 12 months.

Upworthy

Best Small Businesses

Upworthy

  • Headquarter: New York, NY
  • Number of employees: 80
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks
  • Industry: Publishing

A media company that’s become synonymous with inspiring articles and videos and progressive ideals, Upworthy makes sure to walk the walk with benefits befitting companies 10 times its size.

Notable Father-Friendly Policies And Practices

  • In addition to 6 weeks of paid family leave, Upworthy helps new parents transition back to full time work by offering another 6 weeks at a reduced schedule, fully paid.
  • In an effort to encourage staff to make use of the company’s unlimited vacation time policy, the company provides a $1,000 vacation bonus to help you actually get somewhere.

Blue Corona

  • Headquarters: Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Number of employees: 30
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks
  • Industry: Marketing

A web marketing, analytics, and optimization company focused on small businesses, Blue Corona is itself a small business and understands how to both provide benefits to its employees and manage when those employees actually use them.

Notable Father-Friendly Policies And Practices

  • Despite being small enough to avoid being legally obligated to do so, Blue Corona extends the federal Family And Medical Leave Act protections to new parents, allowing them another 6 weeks of unpaid leave after their company provided 6 weeks are done.
  • Blue Corona acknowledges that corporate policies only go so far at a small company, so it encourages a culture of accountability and community rather than expectations around office hours.

Badger Balm

  • Headquarters: Gilsum, NH
  • Number of employees: 70
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 5 weeks
  • Industry: Skin Care

An organic skin care company with a 23,000-square foot manufacturing facility in rural New Hampshire, Badger Balm is the kind of responsible company doing well by its employees that makes it hard to make fun of hippies.

Notable Father-Friendly Policies And Practices

  • The company has a “Babies At Work” program that encourages new parents to bring their urchins with them until they reach 6 months or begin crawling, which, when you think about it, is far more sensible than a lot of companies’ “bring your dog to work” policies.
  • Like Patagonia, a 50 Best mainstay with (slightly less) crunchy vibes, Badger Balm opened its own Waldorf-inspired day care facility 3 years ago to better support its working parents.
  • If 5 weeks of leave isn’t doing it for you, Badger lets new parents take another 6 months off unpaid, with their job fully protected.

Square Root

  • Headquarters: Austin, TX
  • Number of employees: 40
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 4 weeks (12 weeks for primary)
  • Industry: Information Technology

A software company whose main product helps sales managers store and analyze data, Square Root lives its hometown’s motto of “Keep Austin Weird” — it started in a small house and, as it grows, it keeps acquiring the adjacent house so that no one has to work too far from a living room.

Notable Father-Friendly Policies And Practices

  • Unlimited vacation policies can backfire if employees don’t feel comfortable using them, but Square Root’s staff embraces it, taking an average of 15 full days off per year.
  • The company’s flex time policy is similarly well adopted — most staff work from home one day a week, and all employees utilize some version of flex in their work schedule.

Able Lending

  • Headquarters: Austin, TX
  • Number of employees: 50
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 4 weeks (12 weeks for primary)
  • Industry: Financial Services

An innovator in the small business loan space, Able utilizes non-traditional methods like crowdfunding and transparent APR calculators to help would-be owners and entrepreneurs get off the ground — while encouraging the new parents on its staff to get off the grid.

Notable Father-Friendly Policies And Practices

  • Even before your kid arrives, Able offers a fully paid week off to fathers (2 for mothers) so you can prepare.
  • Once paid leave is exhausted, the company allows primary caregivers (men or women) another 12 weeks of gradually reduced telecommuting to help ease the transition back to full time work.

Happy Family

  • Headquarters: New York, NY
  • Number of employees: 75
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 4 weeks
  • Industry:  Baby Food

If you already have a baby, there’s a decent chance the kid has sucked down a few of Happy Family’s squeeze packs of delicious, organic fruit and vegetable mush — and there’s a decent chance you’ve had one, too, when no one was looking.

Notable Father-Friendly Policies And Practices

  • Employees returning from leave are eligible for a 6-month window during which time their managers help them create personalized schedules that include telecommuting and reduced hours, to ease their transition back to full time.
  • Once that kid starts consuming something other than breastmilk or formula, the cost of feeding that mouth skyrockets, which makes Happy Family’s employee discounts a lot more meaningful than those at other companies.

ustwo

  • Headquarters: New York, NY
  • Number of employees: 250
  • Paid Paternity Leave: 3 weeks (16 weeks for primary)
  • Industry: Design

The digital design studio behind such insane-o experiences as Adidas’ running app that selects music based on your heart rate and Game Of The Year winner Monument Valley, ustwo is the kind of workplace that looks like a TV show version of a cool workplace.

Notable Father-Friendly Policies And Practices

  • Proving its commitment to work/life balance, the company encourages employees to log any hours of 40 per week, which then go into a bank that they can use as time off at a later date.
  • Ustwo does a lot of work in the virtual reality space, so it has no problem with telecommuting — employees can work out with their managers whatever flexible schedule works for them.