Last week one of the world's largest professional services firm, Deloitte, made major news on the caregiving front when it announced that its employees shall be eligible for 16 weeks of paid leave under a new broad policy that applies to caregivers of a family member. This is not the only firm that has received attention for innovative leave policies, but Deloitte stands out because prior similar announcements have been directed at new parents. For example, Netflix announced in 2015 that it would allow new parents to take as much as one year off with pay upon the birth of a child.
All these new leave policies seem to be trying to find ways to attract and retain very talented employees by extending benefits that are not monetary. Surveys show that compensation is a minor component of why a college graduate chooses an employer.
"Leaders often discuss how they can become more innovative, and one of the things that make a big difference is to focus beyond business products and services and think about their people and the fabric of organizational culture."
Study shows graduates seek workplace culture, benefits, and not just salary
According to the fourth annual Accenture Strategy 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study, graduates "are increasingly looking at workplace culture, and benefits other than salary, as important factors when making career decisions. This means employers will need to focus on the employee experience they deliver as a differentiator to attract today's millennials."
Deloitte's new family leave policy will provide up to 16 weeks of paid annual leave for men and women who are new parents, caring for a spouse (or significant other) or aging parents. "By adding support for eldercare, spousal care, and children beyond the birth stage, Deloitte's family leave program provides our people with the time they need to focus on their families in important times of need," said Cathy Engelbert, chief executive officer of Deloitte LLP, who was quoted in The New York Times. "Leaders often discuss how they can become more innovative, and one of the things that make a big difference is to focus beyond business products and services and think about their people and the fabric of organizational culture."
Caregivers of seniors and disabled often face steep career obstacles
"The career obstacles faced by employees caring for elderly or disabled parents can be enormous and impact their earnings and career trajectory for many years. When senior caregiving is not seen as "legitimate" in the same vein as caring for a child, the stigma associated with needing to travel to relocate a parent or taking time to accompany a parent with cancer for testing or treatment can brand someone as "not committed".", says Joy Intriago, Founder of SenorsMatter.com.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires any employer with more than 50 employees to extend to employees who have been employed for at least 12 months at least three months to, among other reasons, care for the parent of the employee if the parent has a serious health condition. However, the FMLA does not require that the time off be paid, only that the employee be allowed to return to the company after the required time off. California, Rhode Island, Washington, New Jersey and D.C. all have some form of paid family leave which in most states comes from a state insurance fund, similar to unemployment insurance. More states could be coming down the same road in coming years.
The Deloitte policy is especially refreshing it its inclusiveness. It covers a broad range of situations that acknowledge how important the family is, whether it be a significant other, a child, or a parent. Obviously, legitimizing caregiving is not only about the "policy" and must be psychologically accepted by the superiors of the employee who uses the benefit. Corporate acknowledgment in the form of the paid leave policy will go a long way toward acceptance at all levels of the organization.
Accenture Strategy, (2016). U.S. College Graduates Value Culture over Compensation, According to Accenture Strategy Research [Press release]. Retrieved from: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160512005097/en/2016-U.S.-College-Graduates-Culture-Compensation-Accenture
Deloitte, (2016). Parental leave survey: Less than half of the people surveyed feel their organization helps men feel comfortable taking parental leave,
[Press release]. Retrieved from http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/press-releases/deloitte-survey-parental-leave.html