Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New surveys reveal that most employees favor paid leave and flexible schedules

America remains the only industrialized nation that doesn’t mandate some level of paid maternity and/or family leave for employees. Meanwhile, while the FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave, many will tell you that benefit is woefully inadequate for employees. Indeed, more than 40 percent of employees are not covered by the FMLA and are not eligible to take FMLA leave.
Thus, the results of a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center should surprise few.

Chew on these key findings:
  • 85 percent say that workers should receive paid leave for their own serious health conditions
  • 82 percent say that mothers should receive paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child
  • 69 percent say that fathers should receive paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child (notice the disparity, and what this says about our deeply held stereotypes over the roles of mothers versus fathers in the family and in the workplace)
  • 67 percent say that workers should receive paid leave to care for a family member with a serious health conditions
Yet, despite the call for paid leave, only the smallest of majorities (51 percent) believe it should be a government mandate, with the remainder holding that it should be up to each employer to provide it as a benefit. And, when asked to rank public policy priorities for 2017, paid family leave came in dead last at 35 percent.

Meanwhile, another survey suggests that most employees (60 percent) value flexible work schedules more than any other benefit, and the ability to work from home or set one’s own schedule (65 percent) more than how much one earns. Why do I mention these statistics? Because it is clear that workers need and value flexibility, and if you are not going to offer paid leave to accommodate these needs, then you should be considering flexible work schedules and telework as an option for those for whom it makes sense.

“Employees aren’t productive at home,” you say. SHRM begs to differ, reporting, “Telecommuters log five to seven more hours per week than non-telecommuters, often working even when they’re sick or on vacation.”

What does all this mean? Paid leave and telecommuting are tangible benefits that promote work-life balance. If employees value these benefits as highly as these surveys suggest, why aren’t you offering them to your employees?