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Improved Leave Policies Help Employees

Employee Management
May 25, 2023

About the Webinar

Employees want to be heard, they want to be understood, and they want to know they can trust their managers and the leadership of their organization. While often viewed as an ancillary benefit, quality leave policies and procedures are incredibly important to the success of your company culture. According to paid leave in the U.S. research (KFF, 2021), less than 24% of employees have access to paid leave. For employers, this means closing the financial and emotional gap between job security and personal/family care needs. Join us for a 20-minute coffee talk where we discuss how improved leave options will help retain existing employees.

What You Will Learn:

  • Creative Incentives and Leave Types
  • Policies Above and Beyond Federal, State, and Local
  • Company Culture: Attracting, Retaining, and Celebrating Talent

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About your Hosts

Abraham Gonzales Pollick

Abraham Gonzales-Pollick


Abraham Gonzales-Pollick is on a mission to share HR and organizational development knowledge to help business owners across the globe. He has more than 20 years of client service and product management leadership experience, 15 of which have been spent in the PEO space. Abraham sits on the board of various non-profit organizations and has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. He is a highly-regarded keynote speaker and global facilitator on several HR topics, including “Evolving the HR Mindset.”

Vensure Coffee Talk Webinar

Improved Leave to Help Keep Employees

May 25, 2023


Beatrice Runyan All right, everyone, I want to thank you all for joining us this month for our Coffee Talk entitled “Improved Leaves: Why Leaves Matter?” And, as a housekeeping note, if you have any questions that aren’t addressed during the session, we will respond after the session. We’ll also be sending out a link that will give you access to both the presentation as well as the slide deck.


And now it’s my pleasure to introduce Abraham Gonzalez-Pollick. He is the VP of Client Development for VensureHR, and Abraham has more than 20 years of client service and product management leadership experience, 15 of those which have been spent in the PEO space. So welcome to Abraham. We look forward to your presentation.


Abraham Gonzales-Pollick Thank you for that introduction. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for taking the time to join us today on this topic. This topic is part two of this discussion. A couple of weeks ago, we jumped into the topic of Leaves of Absence and why they matter, and today is a continuation of that conversation, where we talk about other areas of leaves and why they matter. At the end of the presentation, we’ll share a link and where you can find the previous webinar.


Today’s topic is really about understanding what our employees may need, you know, really creating employee experiences and incentives that help you, one, you know, provide really great leave options for your employees, but also get creative with those leaves and other incentives to help balance, you know, your employee’s needs that help them navigate through perhaps some of their anxieties. And so, we’re really excited to put this content together for you, for your consideration. And, you know, as always with our webinars, these are general concepts. These are ideas. We always recommend that you partner with your internal HR partners or with attorneys or any other subject matter experts that will help you create the unique program for your business.


So, with that being said, what are we talking about today? We’ll dive into why leaves matter. We’ll go over some common mistakes as it relates to some of our requirements as employers. And then we’ll talk a little bit about leave types and some creative programs, some really great stuff for you to consider and think about whether or not it will make sense for your business.


So, why leaves matter? Well, you know, for a number of reasons, why leaves matter. You know, there are things that happen with our employees. Life happens. Sometimes we have employees that are starting families, or they have a military leave that needs to take place. They’re either dealing with their own personal health or having to take care of someone from their family. You know, when organizations provide leaves, and many organizations do have to provide them based on the law, you know. But when you have additional leaves, it allows our employees to feel like they can step away from work, take care of their life, and still come back to the business 100%. You know, leaves help with engagement, and they help create company culture. So, whether these are leaves that are mandated or leaves that you create in addition to those mandates, they all impact your company culture. Also, you know, as businesses are evolving, transforming, you know, going into new spaces, scaling, it allows you to have a competitive positioning when you’re trying to attract your talent as well. As different generations are coming into the workforce or other generations still in the workforce, you know, there are incentives that their employers provide that matter to them and why they choose to want to stay with an organization or go to an organization. And so, this idea that leaves matter, it is pretty pervasive across, you know, multiple reasons.


When we talk about employee experience, everyone feels it, right? And so, when we talk about when an employee is taking a leave or when someone is stepping in to help or someone is stepping in to help plan for the business to continue to drive, everyone feels the leave that’s taking place. And so, whether you are bringing a group of people together to plan, how you plan for the extra work to be taken care of, how you communicate what work will be distributed, people are experiencing the way that you navigate through leaves. And sometimes with a leave of absence, it encourages, or it, maybe, inspires organizations to look at their structure and say, “Do we have all the tools and resources available so that people can help pick up and lift while someone is out on leave?” Also, it may inspire communication and how we approach why someone is out, whether it’s communication to other partners within the business, or to your customers, on who is stepping in to support. Again, everyone is feeling the impacts of a leave. And as soon as you see here on the right-hand side, we listed a couple of other areas where your business, or the people within your business, could feel the leave. The last one that I want to draw some attention to is on how we value people, and how we as leaders or organizations respond to a leave of absence. Whether it’s for a personal leave, or whether it’s other leave types, how we approach the dialog, how we communicate, how we treat people is seen throughout the organization. It’s talked about, you know. People who are on the receiving end of that leadership or organization, you know, they connect with your brand in the way that you respond to the leave. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that here in just a minute, how do we create a really great employee experience when a leave has to happen?


So let’s talk about some organizational benefits, right? When we have really great leave programs, and I’m not just talking about the job protected leaves that are mandated, but other leave programs, you have the opportunity to really create a culture of wellness within your organization where employees can balance their lives so that they can be 100% present in their personal and also at work. And who doesn’t want an employee who is 100% present and engaged, right? There are a lot of positive outcomes that come from that. When we have great leave programs, you improve, and can improve the moods of those within the organization, and hopefully it reduces stress, it reduces anxieties, commanding someone to bring their whole, or allowing for someone to bring their whole self. There are health and wellness boosts that can happen for individuals who take advantage of, you know, the leave opportunities available within the organization. There are studies out there that there is improved productivity when an individual can rest and rejuvenate or take care of their personal matters. You know, there is this idea that we reduce absenteeism in some cases. And I understand that, you know, someone who’s taking a leave of absence is out of the business. But, you know, perhaps when there are really great leave programs, there is less of a need to be out in other important times throughout the business. And there’s this other concept about other organizational benefits to having great leave programs: it’s doing our part as employers or organizations to get in front of this idea of Bare-Minimum Mondays and Quiet Quitting. You know, when we start to hear these buzzwords in these terms around Bare-Minimum Mondays and Quiet Quitting, it could be stemming from an engagement issue. It could be stemming from a place where employees are needing a little bit more balance. And how organizations can provide those incentives just through some of their leave programs.


And so, let’s talk about, before we talk about some leave programs and creative ideas around leaves, let’s talk about some common mistakes. And this this is really falling into the realm of what we’re responsible for as employers, these leave mandates, these job protected leaves that are out there. Some mistakes that can happen with leaders because leaders and managers are helping create the employee experience. But some common mistakes can happen are when we don’t when we don’t fully understand our local, state, and federal mandates. Those things that we are required to do when we when we don’t fully communicate rights and responsibilities to the employee who’s requesting the leave. Some other mistakes that, common mistakes that can happen, are when we don’t follow common practices within the organization or follow consistency for other leave types, not just job protected but other personal leaves or other incentives. Not allowing for equity in such programs, picking and choosing who gets to, depending on, you know, needs of the business. Delaying responses to the leave request is a big mistake that organizations and sometimes we don’t think about that. Sometimes we say, “Oh, we received the leave requests. We have plenty of days to get back to them that their leave isn’t taking place for another you know, 45 days, we have time”. And sometimes timing is of the essence, right? Failing to provide notice to our employees are other common mistakes that we see. And asking for too much information, sometimes. Sometimes we only just need the right information to make a determination on what the individual qualifies for.


Expecting employees to perform work while on leave. This is an interesting mistake, right? Sometimes we feel like some employees are so committed that they might tell us as they’re walking out the door, they might say, “Hey, you know, if the world is on fire or if you can’t find a file, please just send me a text message. Please call me. It’s no big deal. I’m just going to be taking care of my parents, you know, after I have the baby. I’ll be just fine. Just call me if you need something, if you can’t find something”. Well, the reality of that is engaging with your employee while they’re on leave for any reason is encouraging them to work while on leave, and that could be seen as interfering with their rights. And so, it’s a common mistake that could potentially happen. Something you want to be mindful of, not to bother your employees, even if they’re telling you to go ahead and bother them. Another common mistake is making comments that could have the employee feeling guilty for taking the leave. You know, an employee comes to you and says, “I am going to have to be on leave”. And you say, “Oh, gosh, what a bummer. You know, we could really use you and we really need you because you’re the only expert”. Making such comments could really make the employee feel guilty, thus giving a reason for interfering with their rights and their responsibilities. A couple of other mistakes here is encouraging an employee to return early to work, for work purposes. Return early from their leave. You know, these leave parameters are in place and depending on what state you’re in, there are other complexities, other leave laws that extend leaves beyond federal. And lastly, inadvertently terminating an employee due to either not approving a leave or perhaps terminating them before their leave is up. So, all common mistakes, right? All things to be mindful of and always important to take a strong partner before making a decision, or making sure that you have practices in place.


So, when we say that leaves the matter and a couple of slides ago, you know, there are these legal requirements that we have to follow. But, beyond the legal requirements, an organization has the opportunity to always do more, always create more programs, have more inventive programs, again, for multiple reasons, either for company culture or you’re looking to create a great workplace or you’re looking to be in a place of a competitive advantage. So let’s talk a little bit about that, as we get closer to the end of our presentation today. Here are some common leave types: you have parental leave, again, job protected leaves that are out there, sick leaves, annual leaves, PTO leaves, jury duty, bereavement, religious holidays, family-medical leave, public holidays, maternity leave, paternity leave, paid family leave, and personal leave. These are common leave types that you may hear about, and these terms are used pretty universally, but here are some other creative programs that you can create for your organization. And again, these are just general concepts and ideas. Every organization is different, every industry is different, but here are some unique and interesting leave types that we’ve seen, you know, in our studies and our research that organizations do. You know, flexibility is a big topic allowing for flexibility and flexible time. You know, meaning start times and end times for, you know, shifts, not necessarily just allowing someone to come in to work late for the sake of coming in to work late, but it’s either a start late or a leave earlier situation. Other leave programs are giving employees the options, if they have to miss work, there is opportunity, other days within the week or within the pay period where they can make up that time, depending, of course, on their exemption status, too. You know, you can review increments in which time off can be taken, right? Maybe there are incentives where there are quarterly incentives where an organization allows employees to take time off. Maybe your organization can offer unlimited PTO. Maybe you have the right administration in place to monitor and track and manage such a program.


There are other leaves that are out there for education purposes. There are some people that are wrapping up an advanced degree and/or, you know, have to do some residencies to perhaps finish a PhD, or maybe even their master’s, and they could use a little bit of time to finish that. You know, birthdays off, or other special events, holidays that are time off, and could be without pay, right? Mental health days, you know, we are in Mental Health Awareness Month. And, you know, there are these ideas and new trends where organizations are creating just like floating holidays, but mental health days, wellness days where they allow a certain number of days throughout the year where employees can choose what days they need, you know, throughout the year. You can offer more company paid holidays off. There are some organizations whose business lends itself nicely to a lot of public holidays and some organizations that don’t. Again, this is all dependent on your type of business. Offering sabbaticals, there are some organizations and some industries that do allow for some sabbaticals. So, there are a number of ways to provide creative leaves and programs within your organization that can position you to be a competitive employer, that can put you in a place to create really meaningful employee experiences, engage your employees, and you see some benefits from it. And, you know, there are a lot of studies out there when you have really engaged employees, you have really great customer and client outcomes, where your customers and your clients feel your brand through the engagement of your employees. And it protects your business revenue or brings more business to you.


The last thing we want to leave you with, either way you go, right here are just a couple of things to think about as you explore your leave options, as you explore your leave programs, and as you manage your leave programs, you should always ask yourself, really, should your employees have to worry about work and personal life? What are the things that you can say as a leader or as a practitioner? What am I going to say or do that’s going to remove the worry from my employees about the leave that they have to take? Employees should feel protected and not have to choose between work and taking care of their family. Again, some things to think about as you manage and navigate through these leave requests and/or programs. What are we doing for the employee and what is the position we are putting them in? Another idea to be mindful of is offering competitive and meaningful benefits. You know, sometimes we can come up with really great ideas, but sometimes the ideas will come from our employees, and perhaps throwing a survey out there to your employees to hear from them what is it that they’re needing, you know. Every workforce is different and generationally the needs are different in our workforce. So, some things to think about there, and sometimes we have an opportunity to help close the financial-emotional gap, you know, between job security and personal needs. And so, as you think about your programs, as you navigate through that, here’s some really great thoughts to have that can help shape your company culture, too.


And with that being said, again, if you’ve missed some of our webinars, if you missed part one of our leave topic, here on the right-hand side you can click on the QR code to learn more about our business, or go right to vensure.com and go to our resources page and you can have access to all of our previous webinars and blogs and other really great tools and resources for you. And also, this coming month in June, we are talking about employee engagement, not just employee engagement surveys — we really talk too much about that — but we will talk about strategies, initiatives and programs that really help transform your organization. We have a great topic on employee engagement events that we will be diving deeper in in these sessions. So, with that being said, Bea, I’d like to pass the mic back to you and thank you everyone for taking the time to join us today.


Beatrice Runyan Great. Thank you, Abraham, for this really informative session. And we want to thank all of you for attending this session of Coffee Talk. Just a reminder, any questions that were put in the Q&A will be responded to after the session, and again, we want to make sure that you check our upcoming blogs on vensure.com. And within the next few days, we will also be sending out a link where you can access both the presentation itself that was recorded as well as the slides. And it also has links for our previous blogs, as Abraham mentioned, our blogs and our previous webinars. If you want to go back and look at any old webinars that we’ve done. And with that, we want to thank everyone for coming, we hope you have a wonderful rest of your Thursday and enjoy the weekend. Take care.

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