The race for talent has long been ongoing. And with a skills gap, which is growing wider, companies are making bigger efforts to remain attractive to potential talent, at times even willing to bend over backwards to not only attract new talent but to even retain their own employees.

A case in point is the recent debate on menstrual leave, the economic implications of which, depend on a variety of factors, including the specifics of the policy, the industry and size of the company, and broader societal attitudes towards menstruation and gender equity.

While the idea of menstrual leave may positively reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation and promote gender equality, it also brings potential economic implications for employers, employees, and society as a whole namely the cost to employers which could be especially challenging for smaller businesses with tight profit margins.

Not to mention that such policies could also reinforce gender stereotypes and lead to discrimination against women, as employers may be less likely to hire women if they perceive them as being more likely to take leave.

Offering competitive employee benefits does help in attracting and retaining top talent, boost morale, and improve employee well-being, which could lead to higher productivity and profitability for the company. But today, with a pandemic that has totally changed the work landscape, many employees keep expecting more in terms of flexible work arrangements and benefits such as remote work options, mental health support, and paid parental leave.

The latest is an initiative by leading telecommunications company GO known as Paid Pregnancy Loss Leave.

All well and good. The company is showing its empathic nature and commitment to the well-being of its people, particularly on a sensitive topic that is not really discussed at the workplace. After all, having employers that care for their people is important and introducing certain incentives to make employees’ lives better is laudable.

Where will companies draw the line?

However, where will companies draw the line?

While there is no easy answer to this question as it all depends on various factors such as the company’s size, industry, and culture. I believe it is vital that companies ask themselves the question “Why are we really doing this”? More importantly, they need to be honest with their answers.

The irrefutable basis of this argument is that employees are giving a service, and employers are paying for that service. There would be no company without employees but there would be no employees without the company. So as employees continue to expect and demand benefits, what are they ready to offer in return?

Offering too many or overly generous benefits can be costly for companies, which may negatively impact their financial performance and ability to invest in other areas of the business. Additionally, some employees may value other aspects of their work experience such as meaningful work, career growth, and work-life balance over such benefits, which means that offering too many benefits may not necessarily lead to higher employee satisfaction or retention. The key here is having a personalised approach.

It is important that companies operating in different sectors or competitive situations design packages and offer benefits that are suitable to their situation. Legal imposition and prescriptive measures are counterproductive, and the fact that some companies opt to introduce certain benefits should not be used as a platform to impose such measures on all employers.

Such packages are not homogenous, and it is best to leave employers to decide on the benefits that fit with the needs of their employees and the companies’ objectives, possibly through a healthy discussion, negotiation or consultation with their employees or their representatives.

A balance needs to be struck between offering competitive employee benefits that meet the needs and expectations of the workforce while also managing company costs and ensuring the benefits align with the company’s overall goals and values.

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