What Your LOA Process is Signaling to New-Parent Employees

Hey, what’s your sign…that your employees aren’t getting the support they need when they need to take a parental leave (or any leave of absence for that matter)? 

Is it the not-so-subtle frustration they’re experiencing when trying to figure out what they have to do and by when? Are you picking up on their confusion and uncertainty around payroll? Are you fielding complaints because their manager isn’t respecting their rights as required by law? Are you finding it nearly impossible to provide a consistent experience for all new-parent employees?

If you’re managing leaves manually you’re likely relying on a process framework composed of spreadsheets, insurance carrier 1-800 numbers, analog-era state department systems, and rogue email threads and document storage. 

The old way of administering leaves is signaling to your employees that despite your best efforts and intentions, the tools at your disposal are limiting the support you can provide them in their time of need, leading to a poor leave of absence experience that can have dramatic consequences on your employee population and your operations overall.

What To Look For When Employees Aren’t Getting Proper Leave Support

The best way to determine if your process isn’t serving the interests of your employees is to identify and document the signs of a poor employee experience. Signal type and strength may vary, of course, but if your parental leave process isn’t hitting the mark and you want to implement change, you’re going to need to look for the signs.

Some signs will be blatantly obvious. 

If you’re noticing that employees aren’t returning to work after a parental leave, or they return only to be out the door the second a new opportunity arises, your process is likely signaling to your employees that their lives outside of work isn’t a priority. Most organizations today tout an emphasis on work-life balance, but providing amazing parental leave policies only to have the actual leave experience be cold and confusing is sending mixed signals to your people.

Another blatantly obvious sign is when your organization commits employment violations (most likely due to a manager misstep, more on that here) or you’re ensconced in legal battles or paying fines. The lack of a consistent, repeatable process exposes you to compliance risks and potential accusations of preferential treatment…a huge leave-of-absence no-no.  

But not all signs are so obvious. If your LOA processes are sending strong signals to employees that your capacity to support them isn’t hitting the mark, you may receive weak signals from your employee population which are just as important to pay attention to and address. Our friends at Beekast define weak signals as such:

Weak signals refer to subtle indicators that suggest physical or psychological exhaustion for employees within a company. They are unpredictable and may largely depend on an individual’s mental and physical health status.

Every parental leave is different because not only is every human different, but every new parent experience is different. From adoption to pregnancy complications, becoming a new parent can take a tremendous toll on one’s life physically and emotionally. If you’re leave process isn’t easy, comprehensive, and empathetic, be on the lookout for weak signals from employees as much as the obvious ones

Why is it important to pick up on weak signals? In the 1970s, Igor Ansoff (AKA the father of strategic management) stated that weak signals act as early warning signs that can predict a trend or an opportunity. Weak signals may be subtle to detect, but can give employers the insights needed to take proactive measures to address any issues and improve employee engagement.

Improving Your Parental Leave Administration Process

This isn’t an article to point out where HR and People Ops leaders are falling short when supporting employees needing parental leave. If anything, it’s an article that underscores how your current process isn’t putting you in a position to successfully support and administer a leave of absence, of all types, and how the signals your employees are receiving from their employer could be causing reciprocal signals of dissatisfaction you must be mindful of if you want a happy workforce (read: reduced turnover and increased workforce capability).

Step one is to evaluate your current process and identify gaps or pinch points that are causing frustrations for you and your employee population. Gaps may include payroll discrepancies or managers acting out of pocket, and pinch points may include any process that requires manual effort on the part of any stakeholder in the process.

Whether it’s a parental leave or a bereavement leave or any leave in between, the complexity and evolving nature of a single leave of absence makes siloed systems and manual processes a major impediment to a successful experience.

Dedicated leave management software can take your LOA process signals from a cry for help to a beacon of light. Simple, streamlined, and automated, dedicated leave software gives you the superpower to administer leaves consistently, empathetically and compliantly so that the only signal you’re receiving from your employees is one of gratitude and enthusiasm to return to work.

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.

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