Taking Bold Action to Help Workers and Their Families Thrive

By Angela Romei Panorama Director, Paid Leave

Most of us have been there – or will be. A family member with an unexpected medical emergency. A parent who begins to require more help. The tug between a newborn or adopted child and the need to earn money.

It’s hard to do our best work when we are pulled between our jobs and our families. Yet somewhat surprisingly, the United States is the only advanced country that does not have a federal requirement for paid family and medical leave (PFML). In fact, only 14 percent of the U.S. workforce has access to paid family and medical leave.

So when Panorama began researching ways we can create a long-lasting, positive impact in the world around us, paid leave programs quickly rose to the top of our list.

The concept of paid family and medical leave in the U.S. builds off the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which requires companies that have more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to allow employees time off for the birth of a baby or to care for a loved one.

Today paid family and medical leave, generally referred to as paid leave, is a gender-neutral, equality-based approach that provides all employees paid time off (the gold standard is a minimum of 12 weeks) to cover birth, bonding or adoption of a child; personal or family illness; and elder caregiving.

Common sense at work

Paid family and medical leave makes common sense. Employees who are able to care for themselves and their families when needed will be able to focus when they are at work. They will be more productive. They will have more loyalty to their companies and be less prone to jump to another company when a recruiter calls.

“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.

But is that true?

We co-authored research with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and dug deep into the benefits – and challenges – of offering various forms of paid leave. We surveyed 250 companies that recently introduced or expanded paid leave benefits for their U.S employees. We wanted a firsthand look at why some companies struggle to retain and engage workers and how others are winning, along with their employees.

“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,” says a managing director and head of global benefits for State Street Corporation, a worldwide financial services company.

Research findings: quantifiable benefits from paid leave programs

Our report, “Why Paid Leave is Good for Business,” demonstrates a compelling business case for employers who offer paid leave to all employees. And it’s not just for technology and financial services companies. Leaders in hospitality, retail and other industries also are seeing positive business benefits from their decision to adopt or expand paid leave programs.

You will hear more about our research in the weeks ahead. Quickly, here are five quantifiable benefits of paid family and medical leave:

  • Attracts talent: 77% of all workers say paid family leave would be a deciding factor during hiring.
  • Increases top talent retention: 93% of women with paid family leave benefits say they are more likely to work one year after a birth than those without.
  • Improves employee productivity and morale: 80% of companies with paid leave programs experienced a measurable increase in morale and 70% saw an increase in productivity.
  • Reinforces company values: Company leaders said adding paid family leave programs were central to creating an equal workplace for all.
  • Enhances brand equity: The positive response, including media attention, that companies receive when they adopt strong paid family leave benefits draws positive attention to their brand.

Creating benefits for a 21st Century workforce

So what’s next? Panorama is helping leading companies compete and win in business by designing paid leave programs for a 21st century workforce. Armed with the results of our research, we are demonstrating the business case for paid leave. And we are offering to walk with them as they consider how paid leave programs benefit their business and their people.

We also continue to deepen our understanding of the drivers that for too long have delayed adoption of family-friendly paid leave benefits. This will allow us to make the case to company leaders that adopting paid leave is one of the best business decisions they can make.

We recommend a few initial steps to help you start creating your paid family and medical leave approach:

  • Leverage our free research, tools and resources to help you make the case for paid leave.
  • Ask us for access to our PFML Playbook, which will guide you through the process to assess, design and implement a flexible and custom program that fits your company values and culture.
  • Reach out to us by email for individual help or with any additional questions.