Taking ‘Baby Steps,’ Being Transparent, and Finding a Company That Values You: Advice for Parents

Sponsored by ServiceNow

Jaime Allen and family. Photo courtesy of Veronika Paluch Photography/Canva.

Jaime Allen and family. Photo courtesy of Veronika Paluch Photography/Canva.

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June 22, 2024 at 7:38PM UTC

Are you a new parent transitioning back into the workplace and wondering how you handle this change while trying to balance everything in your life? Keep reading. 

According to Jaime Allen, the VP and Global Head of Talent Brand at ServiceNow, the key to this transition is to “over communicate and don’t hide the priorities you have at home.” Remember that “people appreciate honesty and tend to soften when someone approaches them with vulnerability,” shares Allen. 

She told us about a recent time when she chose to move multiple meetings last-minute to help provide comfort when the baby wouldn’t calm down for her caretaker at the time  —and she was honest with everyone about it. “Not only was every person understanding, but almost everyone checked in by the end of the day to see how we were holding up,” Allen tells us. “I realize that not all work environments are as supportive as what I have at ServiceNow, but try to find that if you don’t have it already. When you’re with a company that values all the pieces that make up who you are, you’ll be more energized all around.”

At ServiceNow, Allen truly feels that support. In fact, when she started her current position almost a year ago, she was more than halfway through her pregnancy and “not one person batted an eyelash at that fact,” Allen says. “Instead, it was just one more thing to celebrate.”

Allen notes that she was very fortunate to have taken 20 weeks of maternity leave with her most recent addition to the family, and ServiceNow actually hired her after she was home for a year with her first-born daughter. Neither instances harmed her career trajectory. 

“When I joined ServiceNow, it was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when ways of working were turned upside down and the relationship between employer/employee and workplace/home became more important than ever,” she says. “Having the opportunity to lead initiatives like Future of Work for the company, including the hot topic of vaccines, gave me a huge amount of pride in how ServiceNow takes care of its people. It’s what ultimately led me to make sharing my love for the company even more official with our Talent Brand team.”

In this way, Allen was able to do what she loves at work, while also balancing her time as a mother. Here, we caught up with her to learn more about how she fosters a healthy work-life (or, what her team calls life-work) balance, her best advice for other working parents, and more.

How did you prepare for maternity leave and what advice can you offer to other moms who are expecting their first child?

  1. Talk to your manager and HR team as early as possible so that they can help you prepare. Get to know all of your benefits and the process of using the benefits. There are usually a lot of documents to complete, so best to not do it at the last minute, like I might have!

  2. Come up with your ideal coverage plan, socialize it with the people who would be taking point for you, and then vet it with your manager during your second trimester. That way, you can bring them closer to the work throughout your pregnancy versus a crash course at the end.

  3. Document everything. I found it helpful to keep a running list of the things that were in my head that should be on (digital) paper for someone else to know. By the end of your second trimester, start cleaning that up and expanding on it. My tracker had three tabs:  Points of Contact for my team and our stakeholders; Radar Projects, including the coverage plan, next steps, and any relevant notes; and Meeting/Event Coverage to list out upcoming or recurring forums that someone would be attending in my place.

Next, let’s talk about work-life balance. What’s one misconception you think exists around work-life balance today?

That you can’t achieve it. It’s difficult to not fixate on time spent on specific tasks, but I think what we’re really trying to achieve is simple happiness. Do I look back on the week and feel happy about what I get to do in life — at work and at home? Did I make memories and teach my kids something that will (hopefully) help shape them into a good human? We have to take pressure off of ourselves to do it all and, instead, try to take a step back, look at the big picture, and practice praising what we do achieve

Attaining work-life balance can’t be done solo. What people, resources, and tools do you rely on to get it all done?

No one was kidding when they said that it takes a village! My husband is incredible so I turned this question to him. His advice? “Take every opportunity you can to prepare on the weekends so you don’t have little tasks adding up throughout the week. And get up earlier than the kids for a few moments of peace!

We also have incredibly supportive family, friends, and neighbors. 

The main thing I’ve learned is to be comfortable asking for help. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, but I’ve found people are usually honored to be asked and happy to do it. I also have to give a shout-out to my team — we always respect each other’s personal commitments and flex however we can to support each other — and especially my amazing colleague who wrangles my schedule so that I can do my best work while living my best life. She also holds me accountable for keeping my boundaries (like stepping away from the computer at 5:30 p.m. so I can spend time with my girls).

How does having a support system help when transitioning back into the workplace?

If you have a partner and they have parental leave, consider having them take one to two weeks after the baby is born and then saving the rest for when you go back to work. While it’s tempting for both of you to stay home and soak in all the new baby things, the little munchkin will be even more fun later on. It also makes the initial transition back to work so much easier knowing that the baby is with someone you fully trust. Baby steps for you, too!

Let’s talk about ServiceNow’s culture. What’s your favorite aspect of it, and how do they help you achieve balance?

We have our People Pact at ServiceNow, which is our commitment to each other to live our best lives, do our best work, and fulfill our purpose — together. Every investment the company makes in our people should ladder up to one or more of those pillars. 

For example, our company leads with flexibility and trust in our distributed world of work. More than 95% of our company is either flexible (workplaces are used a place for collaboration) or fully remote. And decisions of when to use the office for collaboration are team-guided and individual-led. 

We also just launched frED (named after our founder Fred Luddy) which is a central place for all internally developed and externally sourced learning content for employees. This one-stop shop makes learning available across devices and gets to know your interests so it can help us build the skills for today and for our future ambitions.

Can you tell us more about the type of benefits ServiceNow offers for new and expecting parents?

In the U.S. specifically, ServiceNow provides 20 weeks of leave for the birthing parent and 12 weeks for the non-birthing parent at 100% of base pay (this applies for adoptive parents as well!). ServiceNow has also partnered with a variety of parental and family programs to provide support for our employees and their families from pre-conception through to childcare needs, and even adult caregiving. One of the many reasons why I love being a part of ServiceNow is because the company consistently prioritizes benefits that help us take care of ourselves and the ones we love. The support also extends into the workplace with a corporate-wide initiative that brings groups of women together for networking, advice-sharing (working mom topics come up in almost every monthly session!), and general learning.

Why do you think ServiceNow is a particularly great place to be a working mom?

I’m so proud of the way ServiceNow has continued to evolve as an employer who takes care of their people. We have generous parental leave; benefits to support our physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing; an incredibly supportive community; and a culture of trust that manifests in how we work

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