To anyone in the HR or employee benefits industry, paid family leave has been a hot topic over the past few years. Not only is there national conversation surrounding it, but big-name employers are making attention-grabbing strides to implement and improve their paid family leave policies. With no federally mandated laws in place to provide paid family leave to employees, all eyes are on employers and what they have to offer.
What Is Paid Family Leave, Exactly?
It’s a common misconception that paid family leave only covers maternity or parental leave. So, what else falls under the umbrella of paid family leave? It varies by company, but most commonly, paid family leave provides support for:
- Time off to bond with a newborn baby, or adopted or foster child
- Time to care for an ill parent, child, spouse or domestic partner
- Time off for bereavement
Importance to Employees
Employees place heavy emphasis on feeling supported by their employer so they can maintain a healthy work-life balance, so the decision to not provide paid family leave may result in companies losing the talent they need. In fact, 77% of workers say paid family leave could sway their choice of employer.
Benefits such as medical, dental and vision coverage are standard and expected. So what will set an employer apart in regards to the benefits they offer employees? Adopting a paid family leave policy presents companies with a unique opportunity to differentiate themselves in the eyes of both the competition and potential employees by putting more measures in place to support their employees.
Setting the Standard
Companies are moving swiftly to implement competitive paid family leave policies, and many are setting the bar high in the process.
Netflix, for example, offers new parents unlimited paid leave for an entire year. Employees also have the choice to come back part-time, full-time or to “return and then go back out as needed.”
Right up there with Netflix is American Express. In addition to five months of fully paid leave for birth, adoptive or surrogate parents, American Express also offers employees $35,000 to help with adoption or surrogacy expenses.
Providing employees with the support they need at a time when personal matters take precedence over work obligations not only benefits the employee, but the employer as well. According to a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group, having a paid family leave policy in place delivers significant business rewards, such as:
- Employee retention
- Talent attraction
- Reinforced company values
- Improved engagement, morale and productivity
- Enhanced brand equity
If a company decides to implement a paid family leave policy, the communication plan behind it is imperative in helping employees understand and appreciate the value of what is being offered. Employees are often confused on how their paid family leave time works with PTO, sick days, and short-term disability, making the communication ever more important.
Paid family leave is an extraordinary benefit, and every effort should be made to engage employees so they are aware of how this benefit may apply to them as the events of their lives unfold either expectedly or unexpectedly.
If your company currently has a paid family leave policy or has plans to introduce one, keep these communication guidelines in mind:
- Be explicitly clear when communicating which employees are eligible for paid family leave. Specifically tailor your messaging if different types of employees have varying eligibility standards to avoid confusion across audiences.
- Create a sense of excitement through your messaging to ensure that paid family leave is set apart from the clutter of other communication employees may be exposed to.
- Give your messaging a personal tone because many employees take paid family leave during a hectic time in their lives. Employees should feel comfortable with taking advantage of this benefit.
- Provide employees with multiple vehicles to access policy information so they know where to turn for more detail or further explanation. This can be accomplished through announcement graphic emails and home mailers, testimonial videos or a robust intranet page, just to name a few.