Why Adobe Doesn’t Wait for Returning Employees to Ask About Flexible Work Options

Why Adobe Doesn’t Wait for Returning Employees to Ask About Flexible Work Options

Over the past year, many organizations have overhauled their paid leave offerings for parents and other caregivers in their workforces, as well as providing them with greater flexibility, amid a growing understanding that these benefits can pay for themselves in the long-term by improving retention, particularly of women. But even when these options are available to employees, they may not always feel comfortable using them, out of fear that it will put their jobs in jeopardy or cost them promotions or raises down the line.

To address that challenge, Rebecca Greenfield reports at Bloomberg, Adobe has taken an innovative approach to making sure that employees who return from leave are aware of the flexible work options available to them and feel invited to take advantage of them. The company’s new pilot program allows employees returning from at least three months of leave to work a non-traditional schedule for at least four months—and most importantly, requires all returnees to meet with their manager and HR to discuss this option, sparing employees the worry of having to ask for it proactively:

Adobe’s program to ease that transition officially launched in February and, coupled with its generous parental leave policy, could help it retain employees—especially women. The company says that after it expanded paid parental leave in 2015 (to 26 weeks for new birth mothers and four weeks for secondary caregivers) its attrition rate for women went from a little above the industry average to below it. Adobe declined to share the numbers.

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Give Working Mothers Leave to Stay

Give Working Mothers Leave to Stay

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, a mother of five, makes the case at the Huffington Post that generous family leave policies are essential for tech companies that want to attract and retain talented women:

I have been lucky in my life. I was Google’s first employee to go on maternity leave and last year I became the only person to take five maternity leaves at Google. Each of those leaves enriched my career and more importantly, enriched my life. They left me with the peace of mind, knowing that I could return after spending the time I truly wanted and needed at home with my new baby. Interestingly, I also found that each break gave me a chance to reflect on my career. During my second maternity leave, I decided to make a change and work in advertising, where I then spent the next 12 years of my career.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the research–and Google’s own experience–shows a generous paid maternity leave actually increases retention. When women are given a short leave, or they’re pressured to be on call, some decide it’s just not worth it to return. That’s why, when Google increased its paid maternity leave policy from 12-to-18 weeks, we saw the rate at which new mothers quit fall by 50 percent.

Emphasis ours.

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