People Do Matter

April 25, 2007 in Notes from the Field

People ask me why I’ve stayed at MAYA for almost 10 years and part of the reason is that we’re treated well. For instance, we had a woman at MAYA that, after giving birth to her first baby, wasn’t ready to come back to work and put her son in daycare after our six-week paid leave (and yes, that’s for moms and dads!). We looked at the problem like any other that we’d work on for one of our clients – what creative solution could we come up with to get her back to work, give her some transition time with her son, keeping in mind that we had 4 more moms and dads that were expecting new babies over the next year? The Babies In The Workplace Policy was born (pun intended!). I worked with the mom to write a policy whereby she could bring her child into work with her up to the age of 6 months. She’d have to provide the equipment and care – didn’t want her dumping the child off on one of our administrative staff when she had a meeting. She sent an email to the people that sit in her neighborhood (we don’t have cubicles, but more neighborhoods where human scientists, engineers and visual designers collaborate), and we did get a few complaints before the baby was here – mostly worries about crying. Mom came back to work on what we call a Fractional MAYAn schedule (part time with prorated benefits) and baby was in the office 4 days per week in the beginning. We found that the baby had a calming influence on the group, and when he finally did transition to being at the daycare full time, he was missed. This gave mom a chance to get used to the idea of daycare, weaning her off of being with her son full time, to having him in the office one day a week, until he was in daycare full time. The cool thing for MAYA is that this baby is an amazing baby – doesn’t cry much, is a happy baby, and a good sleeper. He was the perfect baby to try this policy out on, and so was mom as she’s one of our interaction designers, and is involved in user testing. Over the past 18 months, we’ve had two dads bring their newborns in occasionally, and a married couple that works for MAYA bring their new daughter in on a regular basis. It has worked really well.

On April 11, 2007, the Pittsburgh Human Resources Association (PHRA) held their banquet for the People Do Matter Awards. The People Do Matter initiative recognizes southwestern Pennsylvania employers whose human resource practices best demonstrate the importance of providing workers a positive return on their contributions of time, attention, ideas, knowledge, passion, energy, and social networks to ensure productivity, efficiency, and business results. Awards are presented in three areas: People; Learning and Development; and Work Structures and Processes. A group of MAYAns attended the banquet – had a great time! – and MAYA was awarded the People Do Matter Award in the People category for this policy and our benefits package in total. The People category recognizes strategies to attract and retain a diverse, high caliber workforce. The focus is on approaches to recruitment, compensation, recognition, or work-life balance. Other finalists in this category were MARC USA and California University’s Career Center.

I continue to be excited and interested in staying with MAYA because we try to be innovative in our benefits design and our approach to how we treat our people. To me, this policy shows that MAYA is interested and willing to support us on what’s happening in our personal lives – and expects us to have personal lives!

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