3 Things to Consider When Implementing a Parental Leave Policy
February 10, 2022
Approximately 93% of fathers and 72% of mothers make up the U.S. workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet the only federal leave offering is the 12 weeks of job-protected leave for eligible employees under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and that is unpaid.
Currently, paid leave advocates are still fighting for a federal mandate. In the meantime, companies are expanding and improving their parental leave policies in an effort to close the gap while also standing out from the competition. Before implementing a parental leave policy, it’s crucial for companies to take three things into consideration.
Determine the Goal
Leave offerings may vary greatly by organization, industry and across regions. Still in each respective area, these offerings enhance company benefits, communicate a message to employees about their perceived value and contribute to the overall employee experience.
Employers need to identify and adhere to pre-established goals when implementing a leave policy and allow those goals to act as guiding principles for the policy design. Clearly defining these underlying tenets is necessary to create a leave policy that aligns the needs of the employees with organizational priorities. In addition, it’s important to be up to date on leave laws and any disability insurance requirements.
The new policy may be influenced by several factors. For example, company size and industry or local practice may impact the amount of expected leave and whether that leave is paid or unpaid time off. Standing out in these areas can also help your company become a leader in the industry or region for parental leave offerings.
Identify Competitor Offerings
As with any business decision, research is crucial to success. Therefore, it’s essential to integrate benchmarking into the process of implementing a leave policy.
Benchmarking is the process of measuring the performance of a company’s products, services or processes against those of another business considered to be “best in class” with the goal of identifying internal opportunities for improvement. Some of the policy components to benchmark are:
- Employee eligibility
- Amount of leave
- Leave accrual
- Whether the time off is paid or unpaid.
Knowing the facts about parental leave is instrumental, especially when these insights are used to structure policies. Benchmarking, when used during leave policy implementation, can save time, encourage discussion, spark new ideas and help identify and understand the deficiencies in your company’s benefit offerings.
Consider the Employee Experience
Research shows that employee experience is an important and complex issue, requiring companies to evaluate the close connection between employees’ physical, social and cultural environments, as well as the tools and relationships they need to accomplish daily tasks. Therefore, developing robust and well-thought-out procedures when an employee is taking and returning from a leave is vital. The procedure should include detailed instructions on how to successfully execute the policy. This can improve the employee experience, leading to increased employee happiness and motivation.
Personalization is fundamental factor to creating more effective experiences and should be a cornerstone of every leave plan. Although leave planning requires standardized tools and a consistent approach, personalization comes in during execution. Each leave of absence should have a clearly defined procedure that includes the joint completion of a customized pre-leave plan by the employee and his or her direct supervisor to align everyone on what needs to be addressed by both parties before, during and after the leave. It is key to share information about the logistics of projects, meetings, information flow, communication preferences etc. and to tailor a plan to ensure continuity of business while the leave occurs.
According to the Employee Experience Imperative Report, employers aren’t supporting employees’ basic needs on a day-to-day basis during the employee lifecycle. The survey revealed that 45% of employees still struggle to obtain information and answers to basic questions, such as finding a company policy. Companies must look for ways to clearly communicate policies and procedures. They must also tailor the employee experience while balancing organizational and employee needs.
When designing a leave policy that’s right for your company, the most simple recipe is to identify company objectives, do the research and ensure the policy is a great fit for your employees.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your employee benefits broker or trusted advisor for insurance-related questions.
Absence & Leave Management Practice Leader
Joy brings 10 years of experience of working in the human resources field. Joy uses a consultative approach to understand current business processes, challenges, wants and needs. Focusing on market research and trends, she is determined to seek out vendors/carriers with enhanced technical capabilities, superior client service and an integrated solution offering.