Gone are the days when a lot of us needed to think of believable, if somewhat exaggerated, excuses to take a leave of absence from work. While a shift had been happening for a few years now, the pandemic really gave it a final boost. As a lot of employees started focusing on their own and their families’ mental and physical wellbeing, they started looking for organizations with an employee-centric ethos. With the focus squarely on employee wellness, many organizations realized that the old and archaic leave policies would no longer work.
The HR departments of many companies have risen to the challenge and are actively trying to make the leave policy more employee-friendly and flexible. The Great Indian Resignation and the rising attrition rate has been a major worry factor. Some studies have shown that as many as 86% of employees plan on leaving their jobs in the next six months.
And while compensation has traditionally been a major factor leading to attrition, for the employee of today there are other factors such as flexibility, ability to work from home and a proactive leave policy that are turning out to be a bigger reason/s to stay (or leave) an organization.
HR professionals across the globe and across industries have made drastic changes to their leave policy with the intention of making the process of going on leave easy for the employees.
Lifestyle technology brand Noise has recently introduced a slew of wellness initiatives at their workplace. On the leave front, these include a “No questions asked” leave policy and even a leave sharing policy.
“Millenials and Gen Z are a big part of the workforce. At Noise, we do not believe in the “one size fits all” approach and focus on building a culture of trust and security. Our new leave policies are a step in this direction and allow employees to be flexible at the workplace,” Noise co-founder Amit Khatri said.
“Our employees have welcomed the new policies, especially the “leave sharing” policy as it allows people to cross-pollinate their leaves when in need. The policies enable us to cultivate a culture of engagement and trust within the organization as people now have the flexibility to share their leaves with work friends,” he added.
Paradigm shift in focus
A lot of startups have taken the lead in introducing innovative leave policies. Recently, the social commerce startup Meesho announced a new unlimited leave policy that enables employees to avail up to 365 days of paid leaves.
The policy is applicable if an employee or their loved one is impacted by a critical illness that requires frequent or constant hospitalisation. Employees will be entitled to full salary payment throughout the tenure of the leave for self-illness and up to 25% for three months for a family member.
Insurance firm Manipal Cigna Health also has a leave donation policy that is a hit with the employees. While online travel company MakeMyTrip has a flexible leave policy, edtech company Adda247 recently introduced an unlimited sick leave policy.
What does the future hold
“We have been seeing changes where organizations are moving towards policies like unlimited leave. But any changes in leave policies will need to be built keeping in mind the industry and the demographics. While the number of leaves might remain the same, we expect aspects like flexible working in times of crisis and leave donation becoming more relevant and popular,” Reena Tyagi, Head - Human Resources - ManipalCigna Health Insurance Company Limited, said.
“It will be even more important to encourage employees to utilise their leaves and also urging them to have a balanced home and work life and prioritise their own well-being,” Tyagi further added.