Keeping Up with the Competition: Creating Innovative Company Leave Programs

DMEC StaffCompliance Conference

Keeping Up with the Competition: Creating Innovative Company Leave Programs

My Employee on Leave Is Doing What on FacebookBy Kimberlee Rudeen

AVP, Absence & Statutory Products
Lincoln Financial Group

By Kristin Hostetter

Senior Product Manager, Absence Management
Lincoln Financial Group

Profound changes in work, workplaces, and workers are creating demand for new approaches to leave policies. Our session at the 2019 DMEC Compliance Conference, Keep Up With the Competition: Creating Innovative Company Leave Programs, will enable you to understand these changes; identify how they impact your company; and learn how to incorporate this knowledge into the design of leave policies that create a competitive advantage while maintaining legal compliance and coordination with other benefits.

Over the past 20 years, the United States has seen dramatic declines in manufacturing, with significant growth in services and healthcare. The number of workers working remotely has more than doubled, and many more are now able to work from home at least part of the work week, with flexible hours and schedules. Modern workers also have different needs. Younger workers are more likely to expect to change jobs every three to five years, and value lifestyle and flexibility over income. Across generations, flexibility is important because of increased home responsibilities — workers are often caring for both aging parents and young children simultaneously. As more older workers are staying at work, their needs are important as well such as flexibility in job demands, hours and leave to manage chronic health conditions. All of this is occurring in the context of near-record unemployment, where employers are competing for talent. Across this increasingly multigenerational workforce, workers want more flexibility — not only in hours and working location, but also in their leave benefits.

The result is that employers are looking at ways to increase flexibility at work to engage and retain employees, and innovative leave policies are increasingly seen as a key strategy. Technology and financial services companies are leading the way with more flexible parental, caregiving, vacation, and holiday leave policies, even allowing leave for a new pet, personal development, and paid vacations.

For an employer, figuring out how best to develop a leave policy can be daunting. However, a stepwise approach can lead to the desired result. Here are some key steps to follow:

  1. Strategize. What business problem is driving the need for a new company leave policy and how will the leave policy address the business problem?
  2. Understand your employee population. What are the employee demographics? What leave policies already apply to them? What do they value?
  3. Engage stakeholders throughout the development process to encourage buy-in.
  4. Pay attention to the details. Ensure policies clearly define key components of a leave including eligibility, entitlement, reasons, and applicable relationships.
  5. Ask the tough questions. Leave management is quickly evolving with activity at the federal, state, local, and company level. With so many different programs, it is crucial to understand how a company leave will interact with other programs.
  6. Test. Create scenarios and see how and when the new leave will apply. Are there unexpected outcomes?
  7. Prepare to adjust. There will likely be complexities and employee questions associated with the introduction of the policy you should be prepared to field.

Employers are driving innovation in leave policies. There are many trends emerging and to keep up with the competition, acquire and retain talent, and appeal to employee needs and priorities, employers are challenged to introduce and enhance leave policies. Join us at the 2019 DMEC Compliance Conference to learn more about generational nuances and trends and ways you can innovatively manage your leave programs to align with them.