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From Bereavement Leave to Sabbaticals, Emerging Worker Well-Being Trends from Leading Companies

(Getty Images/FG Trade)

Amidst the current caregiving and mental health crises, employees are increasingly seeking paid leave benefits to safeguard their well-being, and that of their families.  In response, some companies are strategically crafting policies that cater to diverse employee needs, fostering equity and inclusion within their organizations, and integrating more resiliency into their workforces.

Right now, the vast majority of companies fall short of meeting workers’ expectations on paid leave benefits. ŷ Capital’s research suggests only 9% of companies offer 12 or more weeks of parental leave for both caregivers, while their 2022 polling found that 64% of Americans believe it is necessary for companies to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for all parents. Worse, just had access to any paid family leave through their employer in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While are able to access paid sick leave as of February 2023, low-wage workers are to have paid sick leave compared to high-wage workers (38% vs. 96%, respectively).

ŷ Capital tracks companies’ practices around paid family leave, paid sick leave, and other core caregiving policies, and we have observed the emergence of cutting-edge benefits that support employees across various life stages as businesses discover that supporting their employees’ well-being is not only socially responsible, but a smart investment. Paid leave policies improve and , while minimally increasing operating costs (sometimes producing cost savings). In studies of California’s paid leave program, about reported either a positive or neutral effect on productivity and almost all businesses (99%) identified positive or neutral effects on employee morale.

Paid leave initiatives are also pivotal in advancing equity within the workforce. Women – particularly mothers – often bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities, leading to detrimental career choices and perpetuating the gender earnings gap, sometimes known as the “.” In an with paid leave policies, the rate of women leaving their jobs after welcoming a child dropped by 20% in the first year, and up to 50% after 6 years. 

Nine years of polling has shown that paid leave policies are a key way for companies to differentiate themselves as a ŷ employer. Below, we examine companies leading on implementing paid leave policies to support their diverse workforces, and the results for their employees and their business.

Bereavement Leave

Mastercard offers a bereavement leave policy, acknowledging the need for employees to take the time to grieve and attend to personal matters without the added stress of work responsibilities. Mastercard considers bereavement leave as part of their holistic wellbeing and flexibility offerings, which they continuously revisit to ensure they best support employees and company. Over the years, bereavement leave has expanded and evolved, and in their current policy, employees can take up to 20 days paid time off, which applies to both full- and part-time employees. Recent updates to the policy include expanded time for death of a parent (including in-laws and step-parents) and in the event of a stillbirth or miscarriage.

We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from employees, who attribute this benefit as a good example of our culture of decency. Feedback has also come in other forms, such as through the employee-led blog on the Mastercard homepage, called “Our Voices.” One employee reflected on their experience using the benefit to grieve the death of their grandparent and support their family, stating that Mastercard is a

Caring and inclusive workplace that values our lives and identities beyond our business hour deliverables.

Mastercard

Critical Time Off

Cisco has implemented a Critical Time Off policy that goes beyond traditional leave structures. This policy allows employees to take additional time off during significant life events such as the illness of a family member or personal emergencies. Cisco understands that certain situations require extra time and attention, and the Critical Time Off policy is designed to provide the necessary flexibility and support. 


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Global Well-Being Days

Three years ago, Adobe instituted Global Wellbeing Days, enabling their global community to collectively prioritize their wellbeing, disconnect, and recharge without worrying about work. In 2024, Adobe is offering six Global Wellbeing Days. These designated days serve as opportunities for employees to engage in activities and initiatives focused on improving their overall well-being.

 

 

At Adobe, we believe that taking time off is essential to the health and wellbeing of every employee. When our employees experience support both in and outside of the workplace, they are better equipped to unleash their creativity and innovate.

With Global Wellbeing Days, we’ve witnessed the profound impact of our community coming together for a collective day of rest. Employees use the time to reconnect with loved ones, focus on their health, or build community with other Adobe colleagues. For instance, the Adobe Golf network arranges golf outings on Global Wellbeing days, while some employees join fellow Adobe colleagues for activities like hikes, local pickleball games, and bike rides. Others choose to spend quality time with their family and pets.

 

 

Adobe

Military Reserve Leave

Medtronic, a leader in medical technology, understands the commitment of employees serving in the military reserves. To honor and support their dedication to national service, Medtronic provides paid time off for employees to fulfill their military reserve obligations. If reservists get deployed, Medtronic ventures far beyond what’s . Medtronic holds reservists jobs  for up to five years and provides differential compensation to cover the difference between their base pay and military pay. Benefits are covered for employees on military leave for up to 24 months. Their Family Care Leave policy includes up to six weeks paid leave for employees who are caregivers in a family where someone (such as a partner) is called to active military duty.

We’ve heard overwhelmingly positive feedback from workers who have utilized our military reserve leave. For them, it’s about more than just time off; it’s about peace of mind knowing that their service is valued and supported. We’ve had employees express deep gratitude for feeling recognized for their military commitments and the flexibility we offer.

Beyond military leave, we’re also proud to offer our employees caregiving support through Wellthy, a care concierge platform that works with families to ease their care burdens. Employees are matched with a dedicated Care Coordinator, who can help manage care in any capacity, big or small. This includes Wellthy’s deep expertise in veterans’ benefits, which can help veterans and their caregivers navigate benefits and coverage offered through the VA and other providers.
Our broader paid leave policies, including our military reserve leave, have significantly impacted our workforce in terms of retention, recruitment, and overall employee satisfaction. By prioritizing paid leave for military reservists, we demonstrate our commitment to supporting our employees’ diverse needs and honoring their service to the country. This approach not only strengthens our workforce by retaining experienced and dedicated individuals but also enhances our reputation as an employer of choice.

Our Family Care Leave, available globally — and expanded leave of up to 24 weeks paid for birthing parents in the U.S. — sets us apart in the marketplace. Combined with our Mission, which provides employees with a profound sense of purpose, our commitment to evolving benefits to meet employee needs is consistently highlighted as a top draw for candidates. …

Overall, our comprehensive approach to paid leave and talent development not only fosters a supportive and inclusive workplace culture but also positions us as a talent destination where diverse, top talent can come, grow, and thrive.

Denise King, Vice President, Global Benefits and Payroll, Medtronic

Miscarriage/Pregnancy Loss leave

Pinterest recognizes the physical and emotional challenges that accompany miscarriage or stillbirth and is committed to supporting its employees during these difficult times. The company has a bereavement leave policy in place that covers Miscarriages and Stillbirth, acknowledging the need for employees to take the time they need to heal and cope with such personal losses.

Pinterest also provides a Family Care leave offering up to 12 weeks of full pay should employees need it to care for a seriously ill family member including a child under the care of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) post-birth. This is in addition to Pinterest’s 20 weeks of bonding leave for new parents. 

At Pinterest, we’ve seen that people do their best work when they are most inspired, and feel seen and supported. We strive to create benefits that meet the real-world needs of our employees by supporting them through the different stages of family planning and child care, and by putting emotional wellbeing at the forefront. By listening to our employees, we’ve been able to shape our policies to support them when unexpected challenges arise. As our company continues to grow, we will keep working to create benefits that provide choices that are best for our employees’ careers and lives.

Pinterest

Sabbatical Programs

Adobe launched its U.S. sabbatical program to celebrate and honor employees’ innovation and contributions, recognizing them as the company’s greatest assets. Once employees reach five years of tenure, their initial sabbatical lasts four weeks. At 10 years, it extends to five weeks, and at 15 years, six weeks, remaining at this duration every five years thereafter. The Sabbatical Program is designed to provide employees with the time and space they need to rest and reflect, fostering creativity and innovation upon their return to work.

Adobe’s industry-leading paid leave policies foster a healthier, happier, and more engaged workforce by enabling employees to reinvigorate their creativity and return to work refreshed, primed to forge innovative ideas, and explore uncharted paths. In our annual employee survey, 87% of respondents expressed a willingness to recommend Adobe as an employer, while 89% stated they feel proud to work here. Upon returning from sabbatical, most employees shared in our sabbatical survey that they felt refreshed and welcomed as they transitioned back into their roles, noting that the time off fueled their motivation to do their best work upon return.

We are evaluating our wellbeing and benefits offerings each year by pulsing employee sentiment and benchmarking against the industry to remain competitive while providing optimal support to our global workforce.

Adobe

Supporting Workers Experiencing Menopause

Understanding the unique challenges and health considerations that menopause can bring, Sanofi has implemented comprehensive menopause benefits to provide support and resources to its employees. These benefits may include access to menopause education and information, support groups, counseling services, flexible work arrangements, and healthcare coverage for treatments or therapies related to menopausal symptoms.

“If you feel truly supported throughout your life cycle, whether it is maternity or menopause, you’ll be more engaged. I’m sure the new generation is more demanding on that.”
Sanofi

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