Three Reasons to Invest in Leadership
Programs for Your Employees
By Renée Winsky
No matter your company’s size or industry,
much of its future success
will depend on the long-term performance of your
employees. That is why
it is necessary to provide opportunities
for continuing education and professional
Research has shown that organizations
with a strong learning culture are 92%
more likely to develop novel products
and processes, 52% more productive, 56%
more likely to be the first to market with
their products and services and 17% more
profitable than their peers.
You may already provide your employ-
ees with access to webinars, workshops,
seminars or conferences designed to help
hone their skills and stay up-to-date on the
latest developments in your industry. But
how much do your employees know and
understand about the region where you
are conducting business, and the people
who you are conducting business with? In
Maryland, we are fortunate to have many
great leadership programs at both the state
and local levels, that provide professionals
with an in-depth, hands-on experience to
learn about the critical issues impacting the
businesses and citizens within their regions.
Here are three reasons to consider
investing in leadership programs for your
• Your employees will be more engaged
at work and in their communities.
No matter which leadership program
you choose, your employees likely will
participate in a series of intense sessions
that will allow them to meet legislators,
business leaders, local citizens and other
thought leaders from your area. They
will have thought-provoking discussions
about the issues that most impact the region, whether it be education, economic
development, health and human services,
agriculture, criminal justice, multi-cultur-alism or others.
By gaining a broader understanding
of these vital issues, participants begin to
think beyond their day-to-day tasks and
see the bigger picture of the role they and
their companies play in the local economy
and community. Studies have shown that
employees are more passionate when they
feel they are performing meaningful work
that is connected to a larger purpose.
• Your network will grow.
Almost more powerful than the knowledge gained in any leadership program,
is the network of new connections made.
Unlike other professional development
programs where employees may only be
interacting with others in similar industries
and roles, in a leadership program your
employees will interact with high-level
professionals from all different sectors, including government, education, nonprofits
and private businesses.
These connections can create limitless
opportunities for your employees and your
business, opening doors to new leads, hires,
partnerships, initiatives, mergers and more.
• You’ll be perceived as a better employer and can attract better employees.
Including a leadership program in your
benefits package is an effective way to
show your employees that you are invested
in their personal and professional growth.
Leadership programs are also a great way to
reward employees for excellent performance
and encourage their continued progress.
According to data from Hay Group,
career development is the most important
aspect of a company’s reward program
in terms of retaining talent, as people are
committed to employers who are committed to them. Plus, you will benefit from an
employee who is more well-rounded in
his or her understanding of the key issues
concerning the audiences s/he serves, as
well as a new network of thought leaders
to call to exchange ideas.
In short, investing in the long-term
success of your company involves investing in the personal and professional
growth of your employees. Seek out your
local and state leadership programs to
see what once-in-a-lifetime learning and
networking opportunities they offer.
Renée Winsky is the president and CEO
of Leadership Maryland and a member
of the Leadership Maryland Class of ’05.
She can be contacted at renee@leader-
The Business Case for Paid Sick
Leave in Maryland
By Jeremy Schwartz
For many Marylanders, the coming of the flu
season meant much more
than worrying about
missing a few days of
work due to bed rest or
having to attend to a sick child while s/
he is are out of school.
For the 70% of low-wage workers
(the bottom 25% of earners) without paid
sick leave, the possibility of getting the
flu or caring for a sick family member
means facing a painful choice. One can
go to work, which can mean the worsening of the illness or abandoning a family
member in need. This is a choice a majority of adults report making, according
to a study done by NPR, the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s T.H.
Chan School of Public Health.
Alternatively, a worker can stay home
and, at best, go without wages needed to
pay the rent or the grocery bill. At worst,
employers, armed with thousands of other
applicants awaiting work, may simply
dismiss a worker due to an illness-related
absence, a reality that one in five low-in-
come workers has experienced, according
to Oxfam, an international confederation
of charitable organizations that work to
alleviate global poverty.
This new Maryland legislative session is poised to offer some relief to
those who must make these difficult decisions, with both Gov. Larry Hogan and
Democrats putting forth plans for a paid
sick leave mandate. While Maryland’s
workers will clearly benefit from such
a policy, there is also a strong argument
that Maryland’s business community also
should be supportive.
Paid sick leave is not simply a la-bor-friendly policy that comes at the
expense of employers who must comply
with a new regulation on how to compensate their employees. Sick time is
different than, for instance, requiring
employers to offer paid vacation time.
If an employer decides not to provide
its employees with paid vacation time, the
business incurs all of the benefits of not
paying workers while they are away at
the beach, while also accruing all of the
costs, such as not being able to attract and
retain the best talent, or having to deal
with a workforce with low morale.
Similar to deciding not to provide
paid vacation time, there are a variety of
private costs and benefits that accrue for
firms who decide not to offer paid sick
time. For instance, firms may benefit from
saving money by not having to pay an
additional worker when one is out sick.
Businesses will also absorb the cost
of having sick workers come to work
less productive, spreading illness to their
coworkers and even exposing the business to liability by potentially making
customers sick, a problem particularly
acute in the food service industry.
In contrast to paid vacation time, an
employer’s decision not to provide paid
sick time also imposes costs well beyond
his or her own business. Sick workers
that choose to show up do not just put
their own co-workers at risk, but may
also spread illness to workers of other
firms, whether it is during their everyday
interaction with customers, on the bus to
work or during their lunch break.
Stopping the Spread
Thus, by not providing paid sick
time off and incentivizing workers to
come to work when ill, employers impose large costs on other businesses and
create a general public health concern.
All employers have an interest in ensuring their employees are healthy and
productive. For this reason, the business
community should consider being in
favor of sick leave policies that not only
ensure employees are able to take needed
time off of work without the fear of losing
their job and income, but also address a
larger public health issue by decreasing
the spread of illness.
In this year’s Maryland legisla-
tive session, two competing visions of
sick leave for the state’s workers have
emerged. On the one hand, Hogan’s plan
would concentrate on relatively large
employers, those with 50 or more em-
ployees and mostly full-time workers;
smaller businesses would be encouraged
to adopt paid sick leave policies through
While the governor should be applauded for taking a step towards implementing this important policy, it does not
go far enough. At the national level, 73%
of employers with 50 or more employees
already have a paid sick plan, and lower
income individuals, those most in need of
this important benefit, are disproportionately employed in smaller business.
The Other Side
In contrast, Democrats have put forth
a mandate that firms with at least 15 employees must allow workers to earn sick
time, and smaller businesses would have
to provide unpaid time off. This policy is
broad enough to allow the vast majority
of workers access to this benefit and remove some of the more severe economic
consequences lower income workers face
when they get sick.
In the upcoming legislative session,
Maryland will have an opportunity to
join a handful of other states, along with
every other wealthy country in the world,
in passing a strong sick leave policy.
Jeremy Schwartz, is an associate professor of economics at Loyola University
Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business
and Management, which has a campus
in Columbia. He can be contacted at
410-617-2919 and jsschwartz1@loyola.