The parental leave boom

A power-up for family leave, the first study of AI in the office, and the work of the World’s Fair this week in The Memo.
The parental leave boom

Hello, Quartz at Work readers!

Parental leave is getting a power-up in the US. New data from the Labor Department shows a striking upswing in parents taking paid and unpaid leave after having a child: 13.5% more have done so since 2021.

The trendline could be attributed to a two-year baby boom, but only in part. The real driver is a surge in parental leave policies. While the US remains the world’s only advanced economy without a national mandate for paid parental leave, states and employers are expanding workers’ eligibility for family leave on their own accord—and employees are taking them up on their offer.

But when more people head out for long-term time away, their work obviously doesn’t disappear with them, and employers are struggling to figure out how to cover the gap. Mismanagement becomes a frustration among the teams who remain and a distraction for workers who should be focused on their new family time.

There are better ways, though, to meet the growing pains of parental leave. Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza reports on new programs that solve the bane of backfills. Those might include:

👩‍👦‍👦 Maternityships, which bring in outside coverage with retooled expectations. Contract help arrives a month before the employee’s break and leaves a month after their return, giving extra ease-off and ease-in to a parent on the job.

🪜 Step-up allowances, or pay bumps for parental coverage that recognize and reward the teammates who pick up extra work.

🏅 Pre-arranged promotions and other recognitions that involve parents in planning not just what their leave looks like, but what they can expect to find upon their return.

To see how companies are putting these ideas to work, read more in Quartz today.


14%: The uptick in cases that customer support agents were able to close with the help of chat-based AI in their work.

The first real-world study of artificial intelligence yielded surprising boosts: AI may punch up our productivity, especially when we’re still learning the ins and outs of a job. Researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) studied the use of a chatbot that guided customer service workers at a business software company, effectively giving us a first look at how AI could change our daily to-dos.

🤖 The results: Don’t fear the robots, at least for now. They could help us find better productivity, better customer interactions, and better employee retention, too. Find out why.


Seen one too many job descriptions that ask you to be good under pressure? You might be less familiar with belastbar: A German word that translates to “burdenable,” or resilient, commonly found in Deutsche job postings.

But writer Olga Mecking argues that resilience has been misunderstood on the job, and we should leave it out of our open roles. The first problem: We think of resilience as a personal trait, rather than a place we can get to.


Part of the (mostly unspoken) agreement between you and your employer is that they agree to help you learn on the job. But opportunities for growth are often over-promised and under-delivered.

Quartz at Work editor Anna Oakes says you don’t need to wait for training. Three elements can help you develop yourself:

👓 Your experience

🔎 Your exposure

🗺 Your environment

Learn how these can help you look past formalized training offerings to expand your skills in your day-to-day.


Image for article titled The parental leave boom
Illustration: Vicky Leta

Not sure whether you’re being hired by an algorithm? Wondering if chatbots will ever be reliable? Worried your home isn’t smart enough? Host Scott Nover has you covered in the new season of the Quartz Obsession, out today.

In our first episode, Scott talks to reporter Cassie Werber about World’s Fairs, massive spectacles that introduced the world to life-changing—or at the very least head-scratching—technological wonders, some of which would ultimately make the exhibition itself obsolete.

🎪 Listen to “World’s Fair: Tech’s bygone showcase” right now

⬇️ Subscribe today, wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher | YouTube 

👀 Or, if you’re in a reading mood, view the transcript or peruse 5 tech innovations that debuted—for better or worse—at World’s Fairs


🧠 There’s a kind of stress our brains don’t notice—and it’s burning us out 

👨‍👧‍👦 A US Congressional dads caucus wants more changing tables in restrooms 

⚠️ The biggest warnings about AI from the people who designed it

🤔 To be a successful leader, develop an “uncertainty mindset”

🗣 The problem with valuing resilience as a skill in the workplace


Send questions, comments, and German job descriptions to This edition of The Memo was produced by Gabriela Riccardi.