Three Ways Great Leave Programs Boost Employee Retention  

December 8, 2023

It’s no secret that retaining talent is key to maintaining a successful organization. Recruiting new talent can be costly, as much as three to four times their salary. In today’s tight labor market, keeping talented employees who are familiar with your organization is invaluable. Now more than ever, employees want to work for an organization that values them not only as an employee, but as a person too.

Whether your employee is going on parental leave or recovering from a major medical procedure, a leave of absence is almost always accompanied by uncertainty and stress. That’s why it is critically important to have clear, easy, and supportive leave processes in place.

Leave programs can no longer be an afterthought

Today, leave benefits are not just a nice to have, they are a must have for many employees. In our Leave of Absence Experience and Business Impact Report, we found that 42% of job seekers wouldn’t apply for a job that doesn’t offer paid leave.

In that same report, we also found that the leave process itself was the biggest determining factor of both a positive and negative leave experience. Of those who reported a bad leave experience, 40% said that a confusing and unclear process was a major cause. Of those who reported a good leave experience, 48% said a clear leave process and expectations was why it was positive.

It’s not just important for organizations today to offer paid leave benefits – they must manage their leave programs well. In this article, we’ll focus on how great leave management can impact employee retention, as well as tips for delivering a positive leave experience every time.

#1. Employees Come Back to Work with Increased Loyalty and Motivation – If Their Leave Went Well

When employees need to take a leave, it is almost always a very stressful time in their lives. The more your organization recognizes and supports employees to take the time they need to manage life events, the more loyal your workforce is likely to be. People are seeking out leave benefits more than ever before, as work-life balance becomes a greater priority for newer generations of workers.

In our Leave of Absence Experience and Business Impact Report, we found that a good leave experience had a myriad of benefits that impact long-term retention. We surveyed employees who had taken a leave of absence in the past three years. Of those that said their leave went well, more than half reported feeling more motivated and productive when they returned to work. They also reported feeling increased loyalty to both their workplace and manager.

With 21% of the United State workforce out on leave in an average week, that gives your organization many opportunities to provide a great leave experience. Building a robust leave program is the foundation for ensuring every leave experience is a good one. Leave platforms like AbsenceSoft give leave teams a robust toolkit for improving leave processes with consistency, automation, reminders, text messaging and more. You can download our guide for building an insourced leave program to learn tips, tricks, and current best practices.

#2. HR and Managers Can Team Up Better for a Seamless Return to Work

Managers are a crucial part of retention – so much so that we often hear “people don’t quit companies, they quit bosses.” They are also the first person many employees turn to when they need to request a leave of absence. Our report found that 50% of employees request leave from their managers. Managers are also one of the most common sources of leave-related lawsuits, largely because they are unfamiliar with leave laws and entitlements.

By adding the right steps to your leave process, HR and managers can be in closer sync about a given employee’s leave of absence. Training managers about the leave process, and ensuring they know when and how to refer an employee to HR is essential. Then, throughout the leave process, managers should be kept informed. They should know how long the employee will be out, when and how much to contact the employee, and most importantly, the date of the employee’s return to work – and any work restrictions they have.

Leveraging technology like AbsenceSoft can also automate communications with managers to make sure they are part of every leave process. Templated, customizable communications can be sent to managers throughout the process to make sure they can plan for an employee’s absence and return to work. AbsenceSoft also supports text messaging, which can make for easier, faster communications for everyone involved with an employee’s leave of absence.

#3. Avoid Leave Mistakes So You Don’t Lose Employees Forever

The worst outcome of a leave of absence has the biggest impact on retention. When an employee decides not to return to work, they leave organizations scrambling for a replacement. In our survey, we found that of those who reported having a poor leave experience in the past three years, 40% decided to look for a new role, and 11% just didn’t come back.

That’s why it is so critical for organizations to pay special attention to their leave programs. When a leave goes well, morale, loyalty, and productivity all increase upon return. However, a poor leave experience can make a stressful time in an employee’s life even harder. Our survey found that across all leave experiences, both good and bad, mistakes were made for about 1 in 10 employees – from miscalculated pay to canceled benefits.

To be fair to leave teams, these mistakes are never made on purpose. Without the proper resources, such as leave management software, it’s easy for well-meaning employees to fall prey to human error and lose a great employee in the process. Leave management platforms make sure leave teams have a centralized source of truth for all employee leaves. It also gives HR the tools to automate busywork and spend more time supporting their colleagues. Even better, systems like AbsenceSoft are updated regularly by compliance experts, ensuring that entitlements are accurately calculated every time.


When considering ways to improve your employee retention, paying close attention to your leave program should be a no-brainer. A great leave experience drives loyalty to both managers and organizations as a whole. A terrible leave experience can end in an employee starting to look for another job – or worse, never coming back from their leave at all.

The are many ways to improve your leave program. A clear, consistent, and easily-followed leave process can drive positive leave experiences. With technology like AbsenceSoft, leave processes can be elevated with automation and personalization. Leave teams get more time to support their co-workers, instead of Googling state leave laws or dealing with administrivia. By providing self-service, text messaging, and personalized communications, you can be sure your leave program is never to blame for poor retention.

To learn more about how AbsenceSoft can improve your leave program, schedule a demo today.