Leader of the pack

Face­book’s se­nior ben­e­fits di­rec­tor, Re­nee Albert, has led the com­pany’s move to of­fer em­ploy­ees gen­er­ous paid parental, be­reave­ment and care­giv­ing leave — and a slew of other en­vi­able ben­e­fits. But her most game-chang­ing ini­tia­tive is call­ing on other em

Employee Benefit News - - Contents - BY KATHRYN MAYER

Se­nior ben­e­fits di­rec­tor Re­nee Albert has led Face­book’s move to of­fer em­ploy­ees gen­er­ous paid parental, be­reave­ment and care­giv­ing leave — and a slew of other en­vi­able ben­e­fits. But her most game-chang­ing ini­tia­tive is call­ing on other em­ploy­ers to do the same.

It’s a com­pany that reg­u­larly col­lects Best Place to Work ac­co­lades and is known for its en­vi­able em­ployee perks. But ask Face­book’s se­nior ben­e­fits di­rec­tor what she is most proud of, and the answer might sur­prise you: be­ing at the mid­dle of the pack when it comes to ben­e­fits.

As Re­nee Albert tells it, be­ing in the mid­dle means that Face­book has set the bar high — and that other em­ploy­ers have caught up and even sur­passed the so­cial me­dia gi­ant.

“Four years ago, we were [one of] the lead­ers in parental leave. Now I think we have the most suc­cess if we start to fall to the mid­dle of the mar­ket when we’ve been lead­ing on some­thing,” says Albert, who in her five years at Face­book has seen the com­pany grow to its cur­rent size of more than 30,000 em­ploy­ees from ap­prox­i­mately 6,300 em­ploy­ees in 2013.

A plethora of com­pa­nies have fol­lowed in the foot­steps of Face­book’s paid parental leave pol­icy, which gives new moms and dads four months of leave at 100% pay. Some have raised the stakes even higher: Net­flix al­lows its salaried em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing birth and adop­tive par­ents of any gen­der, a whop­ping year off at full pay fol­low­ing the birth or adop­tion of their child. Twit­ter gives 20 weeks of paid leave for both new moms and dads. And Airbnb gives birth mothers 22 paid weeks of ma­ter­nity leave, while non-birth par­ents get 10 weeks.

The num­ber of em­ploy­ers of­fer­ing time off for new par­ents in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly be­tween 2016 and 2018 for ev­ery type of parental leave, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures from the So­ci­ety for Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment.

“At the end of the day, we’ve re­de­fined what the mar­ket­place is,” Albert says. “And that’s the nar­ra­tive that I think is so key and so im­por­tant: Peo­ple around the world are get­ting bet­ter parental leave be­cause we were [among] the first to do it. I’m most proud when an em­ployee com­plains to me and says we’re kind of mid­dle of the mar­ket, and I say, ‘Yeah, that’s be­cause we moved the mar­ket.’”

Face­book’s lead­ing charge on ben­e­fits — and Albert’s spirit of col­lab­o­ra­tion — have earned her the ti­tle of Em­ployee Ben­e­fit News’ 2018 Ben­e­fits Pro­fes­sional of the Year.

“Other com­pa­nies watch what Face­book does,” says Terry David­son, CEO of the In­ter­na­tional Foun­da­tion of Em­ployee Ben­e­fit Plans, a non­par­ti­san group that counts more than 8,200 or­ga­ni­za­tions and 32,000 in­di­vid­u­als as mem­bers.

EBN’s Ben­e­fits Pro­fes­sional of the Year

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