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.

Dan Berthiaume, Adobe’s director of corporate communications, had an employee, Carly Listman, coming back from maternity leave this month. About three weeks ahead of time, he got a call from human resources reminding him of the company’s new program, plus an email with a template to help managers have conversations about flexibility. … Previously, any Adobe employee returning from leave had to approach their manager about their options. Often, they never would.

We’ve seen a similar fear of stigma hindering employees from using their vacation time, and one major contributor to that fear is that managers often send the wrong message by not taking vacations themselves. So when it comes to parental leave, vacation, or flexibility, one of the best ways a boss can encourage employees to use their benefits appropriately is by setting an example.