Companies and company owners who are committed to helping their employees achieve work-life balance may be driven by altruism or they may just be shrewd. That’s because facilitating work-life balance is simply good business. In fact, studies have found some key benefits for both employer and employee, including reduced stress levels.
- Employees who report elevated levels of work-related stress take more sick days and have higher absentee rates.
- Unhappy workers are less productive than their content counterparts.
- Turnover rates are highest at companies where employees rate their work environment as highly stressful.
Experts further contend that companies where achieving work-life balance is a high priority are best optimized for long-term success. Additionally, according to the American Psychological Association, employees regularly cite work-life balance as a main reason they would stay at a particular place of employment. Similarly, a recent Hay Group survey found that embracing work-life balance increases employers’ abilities to recruit and retain top talent.
While there’s not a specific template for creating a business that enables employees to achieve work-life balance, following is a sampling of what some companies are doing:
- Comp days – Certain projects – as well as particular times of year – can be accompanied by unusually heavy workloads. In recognition of this, employees can be given one or more comp days once the crunch period or project is over.
- Flexible work schedules – Employees are allowed to create work schedules that best fit with their personal schedules. The same number of hours are worked per week, with flexibility coming into play in relation to when the workday starts and ends.
- Special occasion days off – Employees are given days off for special occasions, such as their birthday or yearly anniversary of when they joined the company.
- Alternative work schedules – One popular alternative work schedule is the 4/10 workweek where employees work four, 10-hour days, followed by three days off. Another popular option is the 9/80 schedule which entails working nine-hour days Monday through Thursday and being off work every other Friday. Some companies have instituted a four-day workweek combined with a two-hour lunch. For example, employees could start their day at 8 a.m. and work until 1 p.m., at which time they would have a two-hour lunch break; they would then work from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Sabbaticals – Employees who have been with the organization a prescribed number of years are given paid time off – usually several weeks – to pursue personal passions.
- Onsite facilities – Some large companies have built onsite facilities for use by their employees, including child-care centers and fitness centers.
- Telecommute – Employees are given the opportunity to regularly – or occasionally – work from home. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees who telecommute are generally more productive and have greater job satisfaction than their in-office counterparts.
- Paid time off (PTO) – PTO provides a bank of hours in which the employer pools sick days, vacation days, and personal days that allows employees to use as the need or desire arises.
- Recreational discounts – To encourage employees to enjoy their off time, employers offer discounts to area amusement parks, ski resorts, or museums.
- Maternity and paternity leave – Providing new parents with paid leave is a highly valued work-life benefit. Some companies also offer paid time off for school-related absences, such as parent-teacher conferences or field trips.
- Concierge services – To help employees manage their non-work to-do list – such as picking up dry cleaning to getting the car washed – some businesses have installed onsite concierge services.