Paid Leave: Good for Families, Good for Business

By Angela Romei, Director, Paid Leave Panorama

Two years ago my daughter was diagnosed with a serious health condition. As a single mom of two children, with no family in the picture to help, I was 100% responsible for their care and I was rocked to my core.

I was also between jobs. I couldn’t find an employer that offered the option of paid leave in case I needed it, so I consulted for a while, which gave me flexibility to care for my daughter. Thankfully, she has improved, but over the past two years I was totally stressed out. My career needed my attention, but so did my child’s health.

That is the decision millions of U.S. workers are forced to make every day. The United States is the only advanced country that does not have a federal requirement for paid family and medical leave. In fact, only 14 percent of the U.S. workforce has access to paid family and medical leave. And even if a company offers paid leave benefits, employees often do not know about them.

Paid leave makes business sense

Today, as a member of the Panorama team, I am honored to work with a group of smart, committed strategists and thinkers whose mission is to change the world for the better. As director of Panorama’s paid leave program, I am working with some of the nation’s top companies – in a surprising array of industries – to help them build a strong business case for adopting paid leave programs.

My team and I walk companies through the research and resources we offer through The Paid Leave Project. The comprehensive playbook provides a step-by-step guide to implement paid leave and an analysis of the advantages companies can expect.

Employers are telling me they adopt comprehensive paid family and medical leave programs to:

  • Attract top talent. Our research shows that more than 75% of all workers say paid family leave is a deciding factor during hiring.
  • Retain employees, especially women, high-performers, and millennials.
  • Prove their industry leadership. Top companies want to be the first to set the pace for others.
  • Live their company’s values. “It’s right for our employees, it’s right for our company,” said one global technology company executive.
  • Build good feelings about their brand. The positive response, including media attention, that companies receive when they adopt comprehensive paid family leave increases good will.

Leading companies champion the business benefits of paid leave programs

“We believe policies like these will help our business thrive because we are investing in those who make our business successful,” says a senior vice president of talent and rewards at Hilton Worldwide. And Hilton isn’t alone. Examples in our playbook run the gamut from hospitality to technology, retail, manufacturing, and beyond.

As a managing director and head of global benefits for State Street Corporation, a worldwide financial services company, told us: “The competition for talent is fiercer than ever, and we recognize that a broader and more innovative set of (paid leave) benefits is necessary to bring in that quality talent.”

Paid Leave: It Impacts Everyone

When my daughter became ill, I stepped away from my career track to care for her. I now know that if I had been working for an enlightened company at the time, my family and I never would have been forced to choose between paying the bills and caring for a loved one.

Today only five states mandate paid leave, including my home state of Washington. My goal is to make that 50. Not because they are required to, and not even because it is the right thing to do, but because it is good business. Because companies succeed when their employees and their families thrive. I invite you to check out our paid leave playbook to see how providing all employees paid leave can contribute to your business’s success.

Angela Romei is director of Panorama’s paid leave program, which works with companies to build the business case for adoption of paid family and medical leave benefits for all employees. Contact Angela to obtain Panorama’s paid leave playbook (angela.romei@panoramaglobal.org) and to begin a discussion about how your company can achieve the business benefits possible with a paid leave program.