By Maddy Arvold
Director of Customer Success
The impact of employee well-being on workplace productivity is no longer a question. A recent report shows six in 10 employees have or will need to take leave for family or medical reasons at some point1 and employer support is critical. This column looks at the consumerization trends of leave management with a focus on employee well-being.
Trend #8: Employee (Leave) Assistance
A new study from Pew Research Center shows adults value flexibility as much as paid leave benefits.1 The rise in the number and type of family-friendly benefits further supports this trend and shows employees are looking for assistance beyond paid leave. Many employers have built out their employee assistance program (EAP) benefits to include supportive services such as Torchlight (for employees caring for aging parents), Milkstork (breastmilk shipping service), and Lucy (easy access to health and wellness experts supporting expectant parents).
Along with benefits, employees need assistance to be aware of their benefits and how to use them.2 One solution provides employees and companies consolidated leave benefit and policy information, helping employees understand and plan for leave, while helping companies simplify and standardize the employee experience.
Trend #9: Family Leave Financing
Whether it is parental leave, elder care, or personal illness, the expense of an event can compound the stressful nature of the life change for the employee. Flexible spending accounts and 401(k)-style savings accounts for family leave are gaining support.3 Benefits such as Care@Work help employees manage family care needs, from access to childcare to housekeeping and dog walking.
Trend #10: Return to Work
Return to Work (RTW) can be as critical as the leave-planning process. Flexible work arrangements and automatic “phase back” — allowing new mothers to transition back to work on a part-time schedule — are the latest trends. Technology and information-sharing capabilities allow companies to offer returning employees a more flexible and family-friendly schedule.
Job sharing is an early trend among U.S. employers, yet it has grown enough to create a market for companies such as Emissaries, which match freelancers to leave fill-in positions. Other companies are designing holistic leave packages to encompass all life event considerations. Working Mother magazine reports that 23% of the 100 companies on its list of the most family-friendly workplaces have some “automatic phase back” benefit4 to ensure a smooth transition for mothers returning to work.
All 10 leave management consumerization trends identified in our last three columns demonstrate the increased importance of the leave experience for employees. By focusing on the employee leave experience, companies can implement benefits that attract and retain talent, while also improving workplace productivity.
As we continue to explore the future of leave management, we will focus on the future of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and parallel legislation that may create a federal paid leave benefit.
- Horowitz JM, K Parker, N Graf, G Livingston. Americans Widely Support Paid Family and Medical Leave, But Differ Over Specific Policies. Pew Research Center. March 2017. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/americans-widely-support-paid-family-and-medical-leave-but-differ-over-specific-policies/
- Butts MM, WJ Casper, TS Yang. How Important Are Work-Family Support Policies? A Meta-Analytic Investigation of Their Effects on Employee Outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology. 98:1–25. 2013.
- D Paquette. It’s like a retirement account, but for maternity leave. Chicago Tribune. April 21, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-personal-care-account-maternity-paternity-leave-20160420-story.html
- J McGregor. A smart way to help mother return to work after maternity leave. Washington Post. May 7, 2015. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2015/05/07/a-smart-way-to-ease-mothers-return-to-work-after-maternity-leave/?utm_term=.572e61dde1c9