As I head to the WorkHuman conference in Austin, I find my mind drifting to my time in the technology industry. As a Seattleite, it’s likely not a surprise to know that before I joined the paid leave team at Panorama, I worked in tech. It’s been interesting to learn just how influential the tech sector is on the national conversation around paid leave.
Media coverage of tech companies coming out with new or expanded paid leave offerings is frequent, with the industry leading the so-called “parental leave arms race.” The tech sector has sizeable profit margins and steep competition for talent, so it follows that employers are finding innovative ways of differentiating themselves from their competitors (or matching their competitors’ offerings).
What you don’t see in the news is how this race is having ripple effects far beyond the confines of tech. Through our work on The Paid Leave Project my team and I have had in-depth conversations with large employers on the topic of paid leave, and the influence of the tech industry has come up again and again. In addition to competition for tech talent, employers find themselves vying for non-tech talent when they’re in close vicinity to a tech company. Agnostic to sector, workers are heavily influenced by the media coverage on tech’s paid leave programs, and benefits overall. People across the country are talking about the industry’s generous policies in employee groups, millennial fathers are forwarding these announcements to human resources, and unions are using this information in their negotiations.
Tech’s outsized influence is indisputable.
As I look through the conference agenda, I see an abundance of speakers and thought leaders from the tech sector. Hosted by Globoforce (tech!), WorkHuman is focused on the next generation of HR, working with businesses who thrive by bringing humanity to the employee experience. While paid leave is clearly in this vein, I was surprised to see that paid leave is not a topic of discussion here.
We believe the tech sector still has an important role to play by sharing the results, outcomes, and impacts they have seen because of offering paid leave. When Google increased paid leave to 18 weeks, the rate of new mothers leaving dropped by 50%. SAP shared that paid leave drives an increase in employee engagement, and every one percent increase in employee engagement equals a $75 million increase in net operating profits.
We’re excited to see other organizations here at WorkHuman that are leading the way with paid leave benefits, including Twitter, Intel, and LinkedIn. We hope they will also lead the way as the national conversation on paid leave evolves; by sharing information that will build the business case, they can affect more widespread adoption of this benefit and ultimately increase access for more U.S. workers.