The Proper Way to Evaluate Your Leave Policies

It’s trust or bust. We’re living in a day and age where a successful employer/employee relationship is predicated on your people trusting that you’ll support them, and treat them like humans when their life’s most critical moments happen.

Some of you reading this might also be living in this day and age, but many organizations remain frozen in the leave policy Ice Age and can’t seem to figure out why they’re hemorrhaging headcount.

The good news is evaluating your leave policies doesn’t have to be a convoluted proposition, and convincing leadership to establish new policies, or enhance existing ones, can be a cost-effective solution to attracting talent, retaining talent, and building a deep level of trust founded on compassion for your people.

If organizations want to stay hot in the market, they’ve got to thaw out from outdated practices.

Step 1: Adopt a “Fresh Apple” Mindset

Companies aiming to hire and retain the cream of the crop can ruin their yield with a leave policy approach that focuses on potential rotten apples. We aren’t saying if you offer robust leave policies people won’t abuse the system, our glasses aren’t that rose-colored, but we urge you to recognize the message being sent to the majority of your honest workforce, the freshest of apples in your bunch, by not doing so

Hint: The message is, “We don’t trust you to not abuse better policies, or we just don’t think you deserve them.” (Okay that wasn’t a hint as much as it was just flat out saying it)

Make no mistake about it, the benefits arms race is on, and if an organization wants to get ahead and stay ahead they must recognize it’s the best and the brightest know that will take them there. Fresh apples won’t tolerate feeling like they can’t be trusted to take leave responsibly. They won’t tolerate feeling like they aren’t deserving of more time away from work to be human. The truth is that in today’s market they don’t need to tolerate it.

If you cater your leave policies to protect yourself from the rotten apples, that may be all you’ll have left.

Step 2: Choosing Your Words Carefully

It is easy to hone in on evaluating the number of weeks your organization offers for a given type of leave (we’ll get to that later), but there is much progress that can be made just by evaluating the language in your existing policies.

A good indication that your language is overdue for an update is if you use non-inclusive language. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Does your policy language specify gender?
  • Does your policy language specify outdated ways in which families grow?
  • Does your policy language imply biases?

Inclusive language builds trust because inclusivity is human. When mismanaged or overlooked, language has the power to isolate and confuse, two words that are seldom (can we just say “never” in this case?) the building blocks for a strong relationship foundation.

Step 3: Compare and Contrast

Earlier this year our friends at theSkimm conducted a #ShowUsYourLeave campaign where organizations were encouraged to share with the world their leave policies. The database that was created is a fantastic resource to check how you stack up with your potential competition for talent and identify areas you might want to improve.

Perhaps the easiest way to convince upper management that improvements to your policies need to be made is to show them the raw data so they have something concrete to base their decisions on.

Not only is this an opportunity to see where your existing policies can be strengthened to compete with industry standards, but it’s also an opportunity to identify new policies you might not have considered implementing and how you may creatively distance yourself from the rest of the pack in your industry.

Step 4: Give the People What They Want

For companies truly dedicated to employee satisfaction, there’s an opportunity to put your policies where your mouth is and go straight to the source; your people. Want a surefire way to make sure your employees are being supported in the ways that matter to them? Ask them. 

We’ll emphasize again that the employees keeping your ship running typically aren’t the ones looking to abuse policy, they’re the ones who actually want to work hard and need to trust they’ll be supported when life gets hard. 

Sending out an annual survey to get an internal audit from the people actually using the policy is an invaluable tool to evaluate how well you’re doing. We recommend doing so in a way that is more qualitative than quantitative. For example, don’t ask them how many weeks of work they want off a year, ask them to rate their satisfaction of your current leave policies. Feel free to add comment boxes so they can provide feedback and new ideas for ways you can support them through leave policy.

Transparency and action are huge factors when asking for insights from your people. Be warned that if you work for an organization that is stubborn to change its ways, asking employees to fill out a “how are we doing” survey and then ignoring the results can have adverse effect on your objective. Don’t promise them the world, but be appreciative of their input and genuine with what you hope to do with it.

Step 5: Seek Low-Hanging Fruit

Swinging for the fences when it comes to improving your leave policies pays off from time to time, but there are plenty of opportunities to identify quick leave policy wins. For example, if your employees can take time off today after having a miscarriage, but there isn’t a specific policy centered around miscarriage leave, it might be easy to get approval for a leave specific for miscarriages since it’s a benefit you technically already provide you just aren’t calling it that. 

The cost to the company will be zero, but the impact on your people will be tremendous. The ambiguity and confusion around whether or not an employee can take a leave for a miscarriage will be eliminated, and your employees will feel an extra level of support they likely didn’t even realize they needed. 

This is essentially what they’re doing in New Zealand where they passed a bill providing bereavement leave following a miscarriage. The bill gives women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave. 

About Tilt

Tilt is leading the charge in all things leave of absence management through easy-to-use tech and human touch. Since 2017, our proprietary platform and Empathy Warriors have been helping customers make leave not suck by eliminating administrative burdens, keeping companies compliant, and providing a truly positive and supportive leave of absence experience for their people. 

Related Posts

Share with your friends

Back to Blog