- Employers may need to improve their communication with new parents, Unum said in announcing the results of a recent survey. The study found that less than half of new parents discussed their parental leave benefits with HR or their manager. Forty percent of those who did spent 30 minutes or less on those discussions.
- While many employers are now offering benefits like paid family leave, this research "highlights the importance of having an open dialogue with HR, developing a leave and return-to-work plan, and discussing all the benefits their company offers," Angel Bennett, director of Unum's Leave Management Center, said in a statement.
- The research also found that new parents’ top struggles included leaving their child (61%), not wanting to return to work but needing the income (52%), the logistics of childcare (42%) and a reduced focus at work (37%).
Paid family leave remains one of workers' most desired benefits, according to both this study and others. In fact, the results of a separate Unum poll released last year concluded that it tops workers' wishlists, beating out other perks like flexible schedules, remote work options and student loan repayment assistance.
Employers have taken notice and are increasingly offering such leave. Among respondents to the most recent poll, 30% said their employers offer the benefit. Other studies have put that number even higher, and even retailers are jumping on the bandwagon, realizing the offering's recruiting and retention benefits.
But in practice, workers may not be making full use of these benefits, and employers could do more to set new parents up for success, according to Unum's findings. A 2018 report from the Business Performance Innovation Network revealed that 60% of working parents have experienced burnout. By creating a dialogue and assisting new parents in creating a return-to-work plan, HR and managers may be able to cut down on some of this stress, potentially resulting in more productive — and loyal — employees.
This idea extends beyond family leave, too. Many workers, for a variety of reasons, either don't look into benefits until they need them, or don’t fully understand their employers' offerings. One-time announcements and annual open enrollment meetings aren't enough, research has found. Instead, employers may want to reach out to workers about benefits regularly; with endless ways of communicating with employees, there’s no reason for anyone to be left in the dark, experts previously told HR Dive.