- Food industry giant General Mills announced Wednesday its expansion of paid leave benefits for workers with the goal of supporting employees "at all life stages," according to a statement. Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the company will offer 18 to 20 weeks of maternity leave; 12 weeks of paternal leave for fathers, partners and adoptive parents; and two weeks of caregiving leave for workers with seriously ill family members.
- The company also expanded bereavement leave for up to four weeks, and it will expand short-term disability to cover 100% of employees' wages for up to eight weeks as well as 65% of wages for up to 26 weeks. Eligible employees include General Mills' salaried workers and non-union production workers in the U.S.
- The company said it continues to support employees' needs to balance home and work responsibilities through flexible work schedules, sabbaticals, unpaid leaves and paid military leaves, as well as traditional benefits like holidays and vacations.
More employers, including some major retailers, have expanded paid parental leave benefits for both salaried and hourly workers to support work-life balance and, in a tight labor market, to be workplaces of choice. The trend appears to be continuing, as competition for workers stiffens and more job seekers are basing their decisions to work for a company on benefits, along with pay.
Employers aren't stopping the expansion of benefits at paid leave options; some are taking a closer look at bereavement leave, flexible work schedules, short-term disability and less traditional benefits like sabbaticals to accommodate employees' diverse needs throughout the stages of life. This is the promise of the total rewards framework that has grown to characterize modern employee benefits.
Although research shows that pay still edges out other reasons for choosing one job over another, benefits hold considerable sway. Employers that expand their benefits to give workers options suited to their lifestyles can enhance employee engagement, thereby delivering higher retention, productivity and job satisfaction.