This week, Molson Coors Brewing Company announced that it is introducing life leave for more than 2,200 employees based in the UK and Ireland. This entitles staff to take up to an additional two weeks of paid leave per year to support them through significant personal situations, such as moving house, studying for exams, preparing for a wedding or settling in a new pet.
The policy has been designed to empower staff to improve their work-life balance and overall wellbeing as part of the organisation’s aim to provide an industry-leading approach to work-life balance.
Coincidentally, this news followed a discussion I came across on Instagram a day earlier, in which presenter and flexible-working campaigner, Anna Whitehouse (aka Mother_Pukka) highlighted a similar policy introduced by accountancy firm EY in Australia in April this year. Here, the organisation offers employees the ability to take between six and 12 weeks’ unpaid life leave a year in order to provide greater flexibility for all staff. The move followed research conducted by EY, which found flexibility to be the number one driver of retention, increasing employee engagement by 11%.
While the post was undoubtedly positive, praising EY for the initiative, the ensuing discussion raised some interesting points. Some commentators, for example, expressed concerns that the fact the leave is unpaid would prove a barrier to some employees being able to take as much as they would like. Similarly, others questioned whether the unpaid element would prove prohibitive for organisations looking to replicate this, particularly if operating in lower-paid industries.
Small business owners commenting on the post, meanwhile, highlighted the impact of individuals taking periods of absence, be it paid or unpaid, on both the business and other members of their team. However, the majority also cited the ways in which they are able to offer flexibility that would be unworkable in larger organisations.
The very fact that such discussions are taking place, particularly on mainstream social media channels, is undoubtedly a good thing.
Organisations are increasingly looking at the flexibility they provide to employees, with many offering tailored initiatives to suit their workforce demographic and business aims. However, as with most things, there is no simple one-size-fits-all solution. As workforces continue to diversify, employees’ desire for support around work-life balance is likely to drive employers to consider what further enhancements they can offer in this area.