BKDers Raise Twins & Further Careers
By Maria Hoover (Spring 2018 Edition)
Diapers, late-night feedings and child care arrangements are all common with a new baby. And it may be twice the fun when families welcome twins, but it’s also twice as challenging to achieve work-life balance. Thankfully, though, BKD has practices and policies in place to help families find balance as they grow.
For Director Danielle Zimmerman, flexibility was the name of the game long before the arrival of her identical twin boys, Adam Jr. (AJ) and Austin, in November 2016. She originally worked in the firm’s Wichita and Springfield offices before transferring to Waco in 2013.
In September 2016, the Army sent her husband, Adam, to Ohio for a stint as a recruiter. Their new home was three hours from the firm’s Cincinnati office, so a daily commute was out of the question.
After talking with her managing partner (MP), Danielle arranged to telecommute from Ohio, but working from home doesn’t mean her busy little boys are with her, though.
“They go to daycare,” Danielle says. “There’s no way I’d be able to take calls or meet deadlines if they were here!”
Technology has made it easier than ever before to serve clients and stay in touch with the office from anywhere.
“Most of my clients have my cell number anyway, so they have no idea I’m talking to them from Ohio when they call,” Danielle says.
The family plans to move back to Texas when Adam retires from the Army in a couple of years, and Danielle will finally be able to work in the office she’s been a part of since 2013.
Paid Parental Leave
When twins Emily and William were born in November 2016, Omaha Partner Anthony Pasternak and wife Jeana were among the first beneficiaries of the firm’s Growing Together parental leave policy rolled out just four months earlier.
Like all new parents, Anthony was already eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Growing Together provides 240 hours of paid leave to primary caregivers and 80 hours to secondary caregivers following the birth or adoption of a child. The time off must be used within 12 months of the first day of leave.
Anthony loved the flexibility it offered him as a new parent.
“I took a week off when the twins were born,” he says. “It was nice staying home and not worrying about anything job-related. I used the rest of the parental leave during that first year for doctor visits or if the kids were sick.”
Anthony says Jeana, an anesthesiologist, gets most of the credit for keeping life organized for their family, which also includes 3-year-old Anna. He does his part too, though.
“My wife goes to work very early,” Anthony says. “I’m the one getting the kids ready and doing the morning daycare drop-offs, and she picks them up later in the day.”
Flextime for Families
Cincinnati Senior Manager Jenn Riesenberg and husband Mike are the proud parents of three girls—5-year-old Claire and 3-year-old twins Hannah and Lucy.
After the twins’ birth, Jenn returned to work using a flexible schedule approved by her MP.
“It’s basically an 80 percent schedule,” she explains. “During busy season, I work five days a week, and one of those days is at home while the kids are with a babysitter. During the rest of the year, I work four days a week.”
Nancy Bass, BKD’s total rewards manager, says there are several employees who use flexible scheduling.
“If an employee just wants to work 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. one day, they wouldn’t need to officially request flextime,” she explains. “But for a longer-term setup, the office would initiate a contract addendum spelling out the reduced schedule and salary adjustments as agreed.”
Because of her adjusted schedule, Jenn doesn’t work Saturdays during busy season. That’s important to her since her husband—a landscape designer and nursery manager—often works weekends.
Her daughters go to a nearby babysitter when she works from home, and she can switch the days she’s off because her contract is for hours worked annually. She plans to resume a regular schedule when all three girls are in school.
Michelle Hurst, a director in the firm’s Rogers office, spent five weeks on bed rest before her twins—son Kanon and daughter Remington—arrived in April 2016.
She and husband Dusty had been expecting another set of boy-girl twins named Chandler and Paisley in 2014. Sadly, the twins were born too early and passed away.
“They’re definitely part of our family and part of our story,” Michelle says.
Bed rest kept Kanon and Remington from coming too early. Unfortunately, it also exhausted Michelle’s FMLA hours. Regardless, her partner and MP allowed her to take a full maternity leave when the babies came.
“After losing our first twins and knowing Kanon and Remington would likely be our only other babies, I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could,” Michelle says. “I was very thankful BKD let me have the full 12 weeks with them after they were born.”
This all happened before Growing Together. When the program launched the fall after the twins were born, the firm prorated the added hours and returned some of the paid time off she wouldn’t have taken had the twins been born a few weeks later.
While she doesn’t use an official flex schedule, Michelle says she appreciates the ability to occasionally adjust her hours to accommodate a later daycare drop-off or other family needs.
Michelle’s biggest challenge to achieving work-life balance has been finding time to complete her chargeable hours, CPE and network without the benefit of a full night’s sleep—something most new parents understand all too well.
“It took some adjustment to learn to function on a lot less sleep, especially for the first six months or so,” she says. “More coffee, less sleep—that was our motto.”
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