Capital One Canada is supporting employee well-being by providing six months of protected leave to volunteer, travel or take time with family.

The financial organization launched the program in September after noticing requests for leaves were coming up without a formal process in place. While some employees’ requests were in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, many were just asking for time to travel or volunteer, says Becca Mintz, Capital One’s vice-president and head of customer acquisitions.

“The ability to take time off as a protected leave, rather than feeling like you have to face this fork in the road is fantastic.”

Read: Capital One Canada fostering employee well-being through learning, development

The company is also using its parental leave policy to build a workplace culture that models the premise that caregiving, whether for children or elderly parents, is accepted. Its 26-week parental leave benefit, which includes a 100 per cent top-up for six weeks, followed by 75 per cent for 20 weeks, is available to all new parents.

“The policy recognizes that there are many ways to start a family and that spending time with your family is part of the experience, as opposed to something you have to do on your own while sacrificing that working experience,” says Mintz.

In addition, nearly 45 per cent of parental leaves at Capital One were taken by men this year. “It’s not just about having a policy we can talk about, it’s about encouraging usage and we’re seeing this across different levels [and] roles in the business, including high performers.”

With employee happiness and engagement highly correlated to business performance, Mintz says supporting employees’ work-life balance is the ultimate win for any company.

“While younger generations are looking for a workplace that models equity and empathy, I suspect this is true of everyone,” she adds, noting these types of employer programs and benefits are indicative of a workplace culture that genuinely wants people to thrive.

Read: Focusing on employee experience helping build new, improved work culture