Happy Father’s Day: Sage People on Branson and brand advocacy

With Father’s Day around the corner (June 21st, for those who’ve forgotten), the last-minute quest for the perfect present begins again. But rather than socks or beer, might the best gift for working fathers be more time with their children?

Last week, Sir Richard Branson announced that some Virgin employees will be granted a full 12 months paid paternity leave. The generous leave package goes far beyond the requirements stipulated by the new UK shared parental leave laws by offering equal leave to employees of either sex. Whereas the shared leave legislation, which came into effect in April, requires new mothers to take the first two weeks off work after childbirth, but allows the remaining 50 weeks to be split between both parents.

With women nearly making up half of the workforce, an obvious imbalance is emerging in terms of both sexes’ ability to juggle a fulfilling career with family commitments. And, while maintaining a work-life balance remains a constant challenge, Branson’s initiative could be setting a timely and positive example for other global businesses. Certainly the news has reignited the conversation around employee experience and the ever evolving needs of the global modern workforce.

The topic of paternity leave was also top of the agenda at the HR Software Show (HRSS) in London this week, and a source of lively debate on the Twitter feed of event organisers, CIPD. Asking followers whether they felt statutory paternity leave in the UK should be doubled to four weeks, feedback was firmly in favor of the proposition – hardly surprising given a recent survey by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills revealed that a third of fathers regret not taking more leave after their child’s birth.

So, with the setting of the Branson benchmark and the increasing weight of employee opinion, can we now expect more widespread reform to parental leave? Will lesser known, mid-size global organizations begin to follow suit in order to remain competitive? And if so, how can HR technology help to manage the implementation of such benefits in multinational companies?

With paternity leave legislation varying from state to state in the US, let alone across nations, managing the different needs and expectations of a worldwide workforce is a complex challenge to say the least. And, as the process of ‘nearshoring’ – outsourcing business and IT processes to nearby emerging territories – grows in popularity for mid-sized companies looking to save on cost while mitigating risk, such complexities look set to intensify.

HR technology then, will be instrumental in managing the different protocols at play in different territories. With the capacity to create country-specific processes, and provide a nuanced view of a company’s various bases, HR software can allay the stress of spreadsheet management and dramatically improve a company’s global HR visibility.

Perhaps most fundamental, however, is the way in which HR software can deliver higher levels of employee engagement by enabling business leaders to better manage the diversities and expectations of a global workforce. After all, with better management, employees become better brand advocates, or in the words of Sir Richard Branson: “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business”.

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