Many employees will be taking MA PFML leave for the first time in 2021. Depending on their circumstances, employees could be taking up to 26 weeks of Massachusetts PFML leave. This magnitude of absence can seem intimidating to employers, but they can mitigate the effects of an extended absence with solid strategic human resources planning and careful preparation. MP’s HR services team shares 10 tactics that employers can use for handling the long absences they might face due to MA PFML.
1. Become educated on MA PFML and how it might affect your team.
The best initial step that the HR consulting experts at MP suggest is to obtain a basic understanding of MA PFML. Gain a strong understanding of how leaves are applied for by employees and what workplaces need to do. MP’s HR compliance experts have compiled some resources here. Prepare the HR department (or HR provider, if the employer uses one) to help process and plan for leave requests. Write new employee policies for MA PFML and how it will be handled in the workplace. Share them with the team and gather signed acknowledgements.
2. Formulate projections on potential absences.
A best practice is to try anticipating where there may be prolonged staff absences. Next, employers should ask themselves a few questions. What will the effect be? Will they need temporary staff, or can they distribute the responsibilities of an employee who has taken leave? What will the employer do if multiple people are out at the same time? Some strategic HR planning will make these situations less chaotic.
3. Provide extra training for staff.
With training, an employee can fill in the gaps and pick up the workload for teammates on MA PFML leave. More training will also have the side benefit of increasing employee retention. Employers of choice give provide employees the opportunity to learn and grow in their roles. Studies have shown that employees are happier and more loyal if their workplace invests in them with training. MP’s Learn and Grow platform can assist with training, whether staff is remote, in-person, or they work from different sites.
4. Keep the lines of communication open with employees.
The best results will be achieved through a deep trust between employer and staff. Employers should ask their employees to consider sharing if or when they’ll be taking MA PFML leave with as much notice as possible. It will be important that employees don’t fear being punished or retaliated against for expressing these plans or ideas. (Of course, employers need to avoid this kind of scenario both for the sake of open communication with employees and because they will be out of compliance with MA PFML if accused of retaliation for a worker’s leave request!) The more open employees can be about potential future absences, the better everyone can plan for them. This kind of planning won’t just benefit the employer, it will also benefit the rest of the staff, since uncovered workloads will fall to the remainder of the team.
5. Implement time-saving technology or services.
If an employer will be facing any MA PFML leave requests (even just one crucial one is enough), a software platform like MP’s to improve workers’ efficiency. After all employees return from leave, the team may be able to reach new goals and business objectives with increased productivity. HCM software and services not only help a company manage MA PFML absences, but also support overall company growth.
6. Consult with HR experts when needed.
MP’s HR services team can assist with challenges like MA PFML absences, as well as much more. Engaging HR compliance experts has significant ROI, especially when an employer doesn’t have the bandwidth or knowledge to stay in compliance on their own. Handling MA PFML leave requests incorrectly, or taking actions that may be construed as retaliation or discrimination, can leave the organization exposed to legal risk, lawsuits, costly fines, and also damage to their reputation as an employer.
7. Make plans to hire (temporarily or permanently).
In some cases, an employer may want to hire temporary, permanent, or temp-to-perm help. If employers can anticipate and tackle hiring needs ahead of time, it will be easier to find the best candidate for the role. Employers that don’t have in-house recruiters may consider using outside talent sourcing solutions (MP offers recruiting services).
- Update their web presence and employer brand. Assign an employee to update Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed, and Vault profiles.
- Update the careers pages on the company website use social media to advertise openings
- Evaluate the company’s commitment to being a great employer, as well as embracing diversity and performing community service. Both areas are important to today’s talent, especially Millennials and Generation Z.
- Identify talent competitors, as these can be great sources for the best talent to augment a team when there’s a staffing shortage
8. Launch an internship program.
Employers often rely on internship programs as cost-effective ways to bring valuable talent into their organization. Interns that are an especially good fit can be trained and eventually become permanent employees. As with investing in time-saving technology or tools. Internship programs are an excellent way to build better talent acquisition strategies for the long term.
9. Reassign duties to multiple team members.
If an employee is planning to be out on MA PFML leave, it may help to reassign their duties to a few different coworkers rather than just one. For example, if an employee manages multiple clients, these clients can be evenly distributed among their coworkers who can service these clients. Particularly when an employee is gone for a prolonged MA PFML leave, this tactic can help make the increase in workload feel more bearable.
10. Place non-essential duties on the back burner until the employee returns from MA PFML.
Sometimes not all an employee’s responsibilities are urgent. It may be possible to put some tasks aside until the employee returns from their leave or until another employee can pick them up. This could be beneficial in preserving employee morale, even if some duties are neglected for a short period. Retaining the whole team and avoiding burnout is essential to a company’s culture and future growth.
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