Watchdog recently announced the expansion of our Paid Parental Leave Policy, which now provides sixteen weeks of paid leave for new parents. To celebrate this incredible benefit, we interviewed Watchdog Director, Ryan Alligood, who also happens to be the father of two young boys, Carter and Brody. Ryan is candid about his experience becoming a parent, how he juggles the work/life balance, and what it means to have Watchdog provide sixteen weeks of paid parental leave.
Name: Ryan Alligood
Title: Director of Project Management
Years at Watchdog: 13
Recent accomplishment at Watchdog: I recently completed Watchdog’s second project for Brandywine Global. I was involved in the first project but in a supporting role. This time, I was the lead project manager. We finished the project on time and had a great experience working with Brandywine Global.
Wife’s Name: Amanda
Children’s Names and Ages: Carter, 5 and Brody, 2
Recent accomplishment at home: Having a great family vacation on Long Beach Island. We took a week off in August to go to the beach. We had three generations of family members and lots of extended family members: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. We had a lot of fun and got in some great beach time.
Life After Kids:
What were the first few days and weeks like following the birth of your two children?
A calamity of errors?!? It’s a life-changing experience – your daily routine, everyday tasks, sleep, everything changes, and everything revolves around taking care of a newborn baby. We were lucky to have some help from my parents, which made a huge difference, especially while Amanda was still recovering.
In those first few days and weeks, I was just trying to help Amanda recover, and trying to figure out how to take care of this new person we were now responsible for. The whole experience is just crazy. You have to re-learn how to do everyday tasks. Running an errand isn’t a quick outing anymore. There are diaper bags, milk, car seats, so many things that you have to remember that by the time you get to your destination, you can barely remember what you need! The most mundane tasks require a 20-step manual to get out the door.
Paid parental leave has been linked to healthier babies and stronger parental attachments. Can you relate?
Yes. When we had Brody and Carter, Watchdog didn’t have the sixteen weeks of paid parental leave that we have now, but I was able to take 2 weeks of paid leave and keep a fairly flexible schedule to help at home for the first few months.
I absolutely can relate to paid parental leave helping establish stronger bonds and healthier babies. The time you have with your newborn children is really important time to take advantage of. They are only that small for a short time and you want to have as much interaction with your babies as possible. It’s time that you can’t get back.
Paid parental leave is also closely tied to performance and engagement at work. Did you feel like your priorities shifted when you got back to work after having your children?
When I came back to work, I had to find a balance between home life and work life. I felt like I had two buckets of hours: family time and work time. I still had clients that I needed to provide a service to and the extra time that I had at home, I didn’t have anymore.
Not having paid parental leave would have made a hard time impossible. I don’t know how people without parental leave policies do it. Having children, especially your first child, is life changing. Your world gets turned upside down and you don’t have any time to digest it or try to figure it out. Having time away from work to dedicate to your family sets your whole family up for success.
What would it have meant to have additional paid parental leave? What would have been different at home and at work?
I think additional parental leave would have given me a chance to spend more quality with my wife and child as we adjusted to life with a newborn, and then our second newborn. Especially with our first, there is no amount of planning and prep you can do to be fully prepared for the upcoming change so those first few months there’s a lot of figuring it out as you go.
As an employee and a parent with young children, what does it mean to you to have Watchdog provide sixteen weeks of Paid Parental Leave?
I think it speaks to the value Watchdog places on the well-being of our employees, both personally and professionally. Providing sixteen weeks of paid parental leave shows how much Watchdog values our employees’ contributions at work. We genuinely care about the welfare of all of our people and want to make sure everyone has a good work/life balance.
Watchdog truly wants to do what we can to make sure people are happy at home because it makes for a happier workplace. The two are interconnected. Watchdog’s investment in the personal lives of our team has a direct impact on their happiness and productivity at work.