Last modified: Friday, April 21, 2006 12:28 PM CDT
Work-life balance a challenge for employers and employees
Talented employees are more than ever seeking out companies willing to offer workplace advantages contributing to a healthy work/life balance. As demographics change, employees increasingly expect their employers to be aware of the whole person, not just the “worker.” The American workforce is demanding more opportunities to spend time on the things in life that really matter.
Simply put, people want meaning out of life, and they expect their employers to contribute to this meaning. If a business fails to acknowledge this ever-important need and, likewise, fails to contribute to a healthier work/life balance for its employees, these employees are more likely to pursue careers elsewhere.
Employees who voluntarily quit their jobs frequently cite work/life balance issues as a factor in their decisions. Somewhere between a full-time job, a spouse, kids, shopping, laundry, cooking, playing chauffeur, paying the bills, and getting the oil changed is a desperate attempt by many of today’s workers to try and keep sane and to squeak some meaning out of their personal lives. Herein lies the opportunity for an employer to be the champion.
More and more organizations are realizing that it makes good business sense to take steps that help ease the burdens and everyday stresses their employees experience while trying to balance work and personal life pressures.
Less stressed-out employees can translate into increased job devotion, and these more devoted workers are much more likely to contribute to greater efficiency and productivity gains.
If a business wants to be an “employer of choice” and keep workers productive, positive, and focused, consideration should be given to offering options to help alleviate the stresses of balancing work and personal life.
One of the biggest considerations in easing the burden is offering schedules that are conducive to employees’ work/life balance. This may include offering telecommuting, compressed workweeks, flex-time, part-time work schedules or job-sharing.
Other options that can contribute to enhancing the work/life balance of employees include offering onsite daycare or daycare discounts, sick child benefits or care, eldercare assistance, and various health and wellness benefits (such as health club memberships, personal and professional development benefits such as time management and stress management classes, and Employee Assistance Programs).
Concierge services, longer vacation times, more paid personal days, and even paid sabbaticals are becoming more commonplace as U.S. businesses strive to attract and retain talent.
Studies show that the majority of American workers claim that their families are their most important priority, yet most also feel that there is not a healthy work/life balance between their jobs and their families. By tailoring employee benefits that help workers achieve a healthy work/life balance, employers can also reap great returns along the lines of improved morale, declines in absenteeism and tardiness, increased employee loyalty, and cost savings resulting from reductions in turnover.
Of course, the size of the company and budget are going to dictate the types of work/life benefits. Nevertheless, if a business, however small, is to attract and retain quality employees, it must create an environment where employees can remain positive, focused and motivated.
Even small companies with limited budgets can offer work/life balance benefits that won’t break the bank. Some examples include the occasional day off with pay, like the employee’s birthday; flexibility in scheduling to allow employees to attend their children’s school conferences or a midday orthodontist appointment; varying starting times for the work day; an in-house wellness program with incentive rewards; or training opportunities for further personal or professional growth.
For a small business with limited resources, a little creative thinking could go a long way.
Could you offer telecommuting to your employees on a rotating basis? Or could you re-align workloads to shorten the workday for employees on a rotating basis? Could some full-time positions be job-shared? The array of options for various work/life balance benefits can be as diverse as your workforce.
Creating an atmosphere where employees can focus on their work and channel their energy into productivity will help them avoid burnout while providing a higher level of efficiency to the organization. More efficient, more focused workers yield greater returns in productivity which should, no doubt, contribute to an enhanced bottom line for the business.
Lisa VanZutphen is the human resources director for Chippewa Valley Newspapers and a member of the Chippewa Valley Society for Human Resources Management. CVSHRM exists to encourage and assist in the professional development of its members and advance the image of the human resources management field. For information, contact Deb Svihovec at 834-8318 or email@example.com.
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