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Solving the top pain points in parental leave management

The U.S. is still one of only four nations in the world that fails to guarantee the right to paid maternity leave


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Believe it or not, the U.S. is still one of only four nations in the world that fails to guarantee the right to paid maternity leave. As such, managing parental leave in the workplace can be a significant pain point for managers and human resource departments. From the administration of leave management to leave inconsistencies and the transactional nature of leave arrangements, there are myriad obstacles employers and employees must overcome to more effectively manage family leave.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of women go on maternity leave in the United States, and 34% of them won’t return to work — oftentimes due to botched leave management. As employees prepare for the baby at home, it’s important that both the employer and parent-to-be understand the parental leave plan and how to alleviate any pain points, so parents have the support they need throughout the leave. The times before, during and after leave are full of areas where miscommunication, misunderstanding and confusion can cause serious damage to the employee-employer relationship.

Problem: Management of parental leave is administratively inefficient

Many HR departments and managers are keeping track of leave paperwork and tasks via spreadsheets, which are antiquated for this kind of task and have significant room for error.

Inefficient administration of leave management can lead to devastating consequences. In our experience, for example, we’ve seen a VP-level employee be terminated because the organization’s administrative function for parental leave management wasn’t working correctly. The employee’s boss changed while they were out, and because of the error, he lost access to valuable files. When the employee called HR, they were informed that they had been terminated because they never returned from their parental leave.

Solution: Managers need high-tech tools that make this work readily available. Today, there are smarter processes and technologies that extend the scope of human capabilities and reduce human error. Making the leave management process seamless improves morale for both the manager and the employee going on and returning from leave.

Problem: Inconsistent leave

Two areas fall under this umbrella: 1) Every employee has a different personal experience during leave, which requires added attention and flexibility on the part of employers (e.g., baby's delivery not going as planned). 2) Leave varies for every employee based on their manager, their role, company policies, pay components and their unique path to having a baby.

All parental journeys are unique — adoptive couples, in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy, as well as traditional pregnancies and births. To backfill strategies for when an employee is away, managers and HR folks need to be prepared for nearly every scenario they might have to manage before, during and after parental leave.

Solution: A tech-enabled service will help the manager or HR employee streamline all processes, keeping leave management consistent. Whether talking to mom, a gay father or a couple looking forward to adoption, companies are at significant risk for litigation by having inconsistencies in this part of an employee lifecycle. A process approach that puts a system in place for all parties reduces that risk, increases clarity of expectations and ultimately creates a sustainable leave management solution.

Problem: Leave arrangement is transactional and not human

Too many organizations outsource leave management, often leaving employees feeling like they are dealing with a robot instead of a human during one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. From dropping off your newborn at day care for the first time to having to hit the ground running at work, returning to work can be rather emotional and challenging.

Most companies are reducing HR headcount, which means that managers will have to learn how to effectively navigate the human element of leave.

Solution: Organizations must have individualized solutions as a part of leave management processes. Incorporating human interaction is crucial in ensuring a satisfied employee through the process and upon return from leave, which leads to improved retention and employee engagement.Fortunately, advances in technology ensure employees feel like they’re dealing with real people, not machines. Platforms can be customized to create high-touch solutions that enable employers to be present, overly communicative and empathetic as employees get into the swing of their new normal.

 

When you add it all up, parental leave does little if parents aren’t supported throughout the leave process. Forward-thinking benefits appeal to the modern workforce and providing parental leave support powered by technology is step one in attracting and retaining key talent. It’s time to give managers and HR employees the tools they need to handle parental leave so parents can raise their children with confidence and succeed at work.

Jennifer Henderson is the founder and CEO of TiLT, a company revolutionizing parental leave in the workplace. TiLT’s tech-enabled platform manages the entire lifecycle before, during and after leave to help companies retain top talent, improve employee engagement and ultimately improve employees health and wellness.

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