How to Nail Leave Benefit Education

So you offer the most robust, inclusive, comprehensive, and (fill in your favorite adjective here) leave benefit policy in your industry…but none of your employees know it. Bolster your benefits with an education plan that keeps your employees informed, engaged, and set up for success should any life event rear its untimely head.

Talk is cheap…so have a strategy

Employees love having benefits (hard-hitting journalism), but while co-pays and deductibles might stay top-of-mind beyond open enrollment, and vacation days digitally circled with fervor, benefits pertaining to an employee’s right to leave of absence (LOA) might be an afterthought for your general employee population…until life hits the fan and they’re frantically searching for answers.

This becomes problematic when an employee feels either:

  1. They don’t have a right to an LOA when they actually do.
  2. They’re worried they’ll be reprimanded for requesting a leave.
  3. They ask their manager and they’re not sure either.

Awareness and education can make all the difference, and with the right communication strategy, your people will feel informed and empowered. A one-size-fits-all approach might seem appealing, but if you want increased engagement and absorption of leave benefits info, offer a variety of direct communications to your employees.

Here are a few methods you can incorporate into your strategy:

  1. Periodic emails with reminders of benefits
  2. Town halls with a Q&A, 
  3. A direct line to communicate with HR
  4. Slack (or internal chat solution of choice) channels specific to benefits where questions can be asked
  5. Get creative with the content i.e., video messaging, interactive activities

Be resource-full

Even with a communication strategy in place and operational, there’s still an opportunity to educate employees on leave. Not everyone feels comfortable asking questions about leave to colleagues, so even with a comms strategy in place, if taking a leave isn’t on your employees’ radars the details of leave might not be clear.

Develop a resource center that houses all the latest information about your organization’s leave policies, then reference or link to that resource center in all of your communications pertaining to benefits. These resources should outline what your policies are, who can use them, the process for requesting a leave, and any state or federal benefits that they might be entitled to depending on the state in which they live.

Make managers a priority

Employees tend to have a stronger, more personal relationship with their managers than they do with their People Teams. As such, it’s not uncommon for an employee’s first point of contact when asking about a leave of absence is their manager. While they should be going to HR, this isn’t a major concern if that manager is both empathetic and informed on state and federal leave laws and company policy, but managers can become a major leave liability when that’s not the case. 

Educating managers on the do’s and don’ts when their employee is taking a leave can help organizations minimize compliance risks, reduce turnover connected to a poorly managed leave, and give them the tools to provide a soft place for the employee to land upon return. Managers should be given these educational materials because they play a very specific role in the leave journey.

Seek out software

If you’ve made it this far down the blog (hi), you might be thinking to yourself “ME AND WHAT ARMY??” The burdens on People Teams have been ballooning at breakneck speeds these last few years, so this might be an opportunity to look into outsourcing some of the administrative work around leave management and education. 

Technology solutions can offer efficiencies and compliance confidence that Excel spreadsheets and leave law Google searches never will. Outsourcing your leave management will not only save your department valuable time and money, but also opens the door to impactful communication and education opportunities so you can get back to focusing on improving the lives of your employees.

Be analytical

Once you’ve got your educational systems (whether in-house or outsourced), the best way to determine if your people are educated on your organization’s leave benefits is to send out surveys. Employees don’t love taking surveys (more hard-hitting journalism), so keep them brief (3-4 questions) and use them sparingly (once every 6 months). 

The results of a leave benefit survey can tell you everything you need to know about how informed your people are as it pertains to leave at your organization. It can show where educational gaps exist so you can continue to refine your strategy and improve the leave experience over time.

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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