The companies that won that war for talent during the Great Resignation had one major thing in common: they offered paid leave

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  • A new report from a federal committee looks at workers who did and didn’t have paid leave during the pandemic and its aftermath.
  • During the pandemic, workers with paid leave were more likely to stay in their roles.
  • They were also more likely to get raises and promotions, suggesting that paid leave helps with retention.

If you want your employees to stick around, paying them to take time off might be key.

A new report from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis looks at which workers had access to paid leave, and how they fared during the pandemic. They tracked 12 of the country’s biggest employers — all of which conducted layoffs in 2020 — and their workers from 2019 to 2021.

At companies that didn’t offer paid leave, employees were three to four times more likely to quit than at companies with the benefit. In one company the report analyzes, over a third of female hourly workers without access to paid leave quit in 2020. Meanwhile, just 12.4% of female hourly workers with paid leave at that company quit. 

And taking time off meant that workers were more likely to come back, according to the report. Workers who took leave quit less frequently than workers who didn’t. They also got more raises than workers who did not take leave, and were more likely to get promoted.

“Workers who took this leave received raises and promotions at higher rates than workers who did not,” the report says, “which may indicate that workers’ performance improved as a result of taking the leave, perhaps due to reduced stress and burnout.”

However, male workers benefited more from taking leave — they were more likely to get promotions than women who took time off. It speaks to some of the structural inequities still present for women in the workforce, who faced especially difficult struggles at work during the pandemic.

Those findings come after Congress failed to pass guaranteed federal paid leave in the long-negotiated Inflation Reduction Act that became law in August, even after research suggests that the benefits found in the report could be more widespread.

Paid leave could mean Americans earning $28.5 billion more every year, according to a study from the Women Effect Action Fund and University of Massachusetts Amherst. Under a federal policy, 18 million more workers would take paid leave annually, that study found — potentially leading to greater retention.

That’s been the case in California, where workers have had paid leave since 2002. New mothers there have had higher levels of employment since the policy was enacted, and small businesses have had to pay less in labor costs, according to an analysis from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Despite the differences between workers with and without paid leave, quits were low across the board in 2020, including in the companies analyzed. That may be due to pandemic-era uncertainty, especially since all of those firms did conduct layoffs at one point. 

But the low rate of quits across the economy did likely power the quitting boom that began in the spring of 2021. Another 3.7 million more people would have quit by August 2021 if there were no pandemic, according to Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor, showing a pent-up appetite to quit. Considering how many hourly and low-wage workers ended up leaving after the economy reopened, that appetite was likely common among the workers this report analyzes.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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