what extended family leave means for the rest of us

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Extended family leave is a wonderful program for employees, yes? No doubt this generous program will create a stronger and happier workforce for thousands of U.S. families.

But here’s the rub: the cost of providing this generous benefit will also hurt, in unintended ways. Faced with the requirement to fund this program, not all companies will survive without deep sacrifice. NFIB Research Foundation examined multiple proposals to mandate paid leave and concluded it could cost between 12,000 and 16,000 jobs over several years, costing billions in lost economic output.

“There is no way to force employers to provide an expensive benefit without forcing some of them to make cuts elsewhere,” said NFIB State Director Bill Vernon in an interview with NY Daily News. “The result will be some combination of fewer hours for employers, weaker productivity for businesses and fewer opportunities for job seekers.”

Yet again, in a less than ideal economy, companies and employees are forced to accomplish more with less. How can we achieve this?

Some prospective solutions may be surprisingly obvious.

  1. Reduce wasted time. According to research I have covered in the past, time waste at work is an epidemic, and is only continuing to grow. A whopping 89% of employees admit to wasting at least a portion of their time at work every single day. The luxury of extended family leave reduces the amount of time any team or employee can waste and still achieve the productivity goals that allow the company to remain viable.
  2. Measure work differently. An increasing number of companies are building profitability by measuring employee contribution by jobs completed and objectives fulfilled, as opposed to hours on the job. This strategy makes for happier and more productive staff, as employees who work hard can rise faster and achieve greater flexibility in their schedules. This strategy may be one of the best counter measures to address the additional cost companies face in paying for more and better extended family leave.
  3. Entrepreneurship is an answer. Some predictions estimate that as many as 60% or more of U.S. employees may be operating as freelancers or “solopreneurs” within the coming years. This trend could move even faster as the cost of extended family leave forces traditional organizations to shed tens of thousands of jobs. But what economists have, in many cases, failed to note is that over the past decade, “solopreneurs” have created 22.7 million new jobs (and in many cases they are the jobs corporate America has trimmed). If your organization is requiring too much of employees to remain viable under the weight of additional expenses it must carry by federal mandate, now may be the time to consider creating your own more flexible job as an entrepreneur.

Whether or not you are a proponent of the new rules for extended family leave, these alternatives may help you and your organization ease the pain this benefit creates as your team and company make further adjustments to carry this new and additional cost.

By cheryl snapp conner
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