Win-Win: How employees and the employer benefit from parental leave
Frank Wolkenhauer, Senior editor Communications/PR Entertainment, is responsible for TV formats such as “The Voice of Germany” and has already taken parental leave for the second time.
“I always wanted to be a father who has a strong bond with his children. It is important to me to spend time with them and to be involved in their day-to-day lives. For me, as for many young fathers, raising children is not just a mother’s responsibility. I therefore always knew that I would take parental leave. My daughter Emilia was born five years ago and Lukas is now two years old. When I work full time, contact with my children is limited to getting up, getting dressed, having breakfast, and taking them to nursery school. With a little luck I get to see them both again briefly before they go to bed. During parental leave, things were different. Then, I was a full-time dad with all the trimmings, and I really enjoyed it: Going shopping, preparing meals, cooking baby food, putting Lukas down for his afternoon nap, picking Emilia up from nursery school, going to the playground or swimming pool, reading books – simply spending the day together.
For me, being there to witness when they babble, crawl, and stand for the first time was a great gift. Lukas’ first ‘word’ was ‘Dada,’ by the way. Was he really referring to me? I was very happy in any case.
The team has supported my plans from the outsetMy boss supported me in planning my parental leave right from the start. We discussed a time period that suited my wife and I, but that was also manageable for the colleagues who covered for me. I work at ProSiebenSat.1 TV Deutschland in the Communications/PR department, where I’m responsible for the PR for formats such as ‘The Voice of Germany’ or ‘The Voice Kids.’ My colleagues never gave me the feeling that they thought, ‘Now he’s going on parental leave and leaving his work to us.’ We are a great team, enjoy working together, and support each other – this is especially clear in such situations. And of course I’m also happy to cover for my colleagues at any time, just as they did for me.
Back when Emilia was born, I was the first father in our department to go on parental leave. The two colleagues who became fathers after me also took two months’ parental leave. This is supported in our department, and everyone encourages others to take this time out for the family.
When I came back to the office after two months, recording for the blind auditions for ‘The Voice of Germany’ was just starting, so there was no easing back in gently; I was straight back in the thick of things – in the projects and in the team. I can’t say that I went back completely physically rested and relaxed. Emilia and Lukas simply sleep too little for that – which also has its advantages: At seven in the morning you never have to stand in line for long at any market stall. But my mind was really clear. After this time out, I was mentally refreshed and highly motivated. I really looked forward to work and to my projects. I’m therefore convinced that not only employees or fathers benefit from parental leave, but that employers do too. In the best case, the boss and colleagues receive a happy, well-balanced employee who gets back to work with new ideas and great drive.
There’s nothing more worthwhile than spending an intensive, uninterrupted period of time with your children
I wholly recommend spending this everyday time together. Since going back to my job full time again, I have to limit on our morning get-up-and-get-ready routine. Lukas waves goodbye, and in the evening, the children welcome me with a beaming smile – so every (working) day ends on a happy note.”