family is the only winner

“Microsoft requires contractors to offer paid parental leave.”

So Microsoft is not just becoming more family-friendly (especially for new parents), it’s forcing its entire ecosystem to do the same.

No, this is not just altruism, this is good business.

Tech companies are famous for running their companies in such a way that the outside world need not exist- they’ve got everything on-site that the average techie needs to live: free food, free gourmet coffee, Mountain Dew, free massages, free napping pods to sleep in, free retro arcade games and fußball tables, the list of goodies is endless.

Well, that works fine if you’re a twenty-six-year-old single person with no interests except working and furthering your career. But once you’re a bit older and have a family, they’ll want you at home at night with them, not sleeping alone underneath your desk.

So Newsflash: People want to have *lives*. This is partly what allowed Dell Computers to grow so quickly in the 1980s and 1990s- simply by staying in Austin, they could attract and retain top-tier talent by offering them a job in a fun city where people actually wanted to live and raise their kids (As opposed to making them move to the more industrious, but far less livable Houston or Dallas). Coding on weekdays, Zilker Park and Barton Springs on weekends. Yeah, Baby.

There’s an amazing 2014 HBR article by Roger L. Martin called “The Rise (and Likely Fall) of the Talent Economy”. It talks about how 100 years ago, all the wealth was tied up in natural resources. Then, 50 years ago, the capitalists- the factory owners- held all the cards. Now, in a world which values innovation above all else, talent calls the shots. And yes, Microsoft and other forward-thinking companies have spotted this, and are acting accordingly.

Like the image above implies, family is the only victory. Which is why the latest round of the talent war will be fought on the family front- or “the family-friendly front”, if you prefer. And people with families (especially families with young children) will be utterly delighted to learn this.

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