The Loop

Align Family/Work-Life Balance Benefits With Business Goals

Filed under: Benefits

The theory behind work-life balance is that workers can be happy, satisfied, and thrive in both their work and personal life. But with so much diversity within the workforce, how can employers implement policies and benefits that are embraced by everyone? After all, each individual’s definition of what constitutes happiness and satisfaction is different. Some people are even joyful workaholics.

One way to approach family and work-life benefit offerings is to align them with company goals. Consider the primary goals for your organization’s one-, three- and five-year plans, then tailor work-life balance benefits and policies best suited to help your company achieve them.

Improve Customer Service

Let’s say a top priority in retaining and expanding your sales revenues is to improve your customer service. Many times, customer service jobs are taxing and frustrating. Workers spend their shifts dealing with disgruntled, often irate customers, and may not have the capacity to meet their demands. This job is also subject to specific times for workers to clock in, which makes scheduling difficult when workers have to take time off for personal emergencies.

Some of the ways an employer can help balance work and personal life challenges is by instituting variable shift work, part-time work, and flextime (such as four day weeks with longer hours). For example:

  • Eliminate on-call shifts and provide work schedules two weeks in advance
  • Offer electronic shift-swapping
  • Schedule consistent start and finish times whenever possible
  • Add hours for part-timers who want them
  • Increase peak-hours staffing
  • Enable routing customer service calls/systems access for remote workers, either on a regular or emergency basis

Scheduling flexibility can help man customer service desks without generating longer hours for workers. It also can give workers the option to have a weekday free to take care of personal business or attend a child’s activity. Employers that need to ramp up and scale down resources during seasonal peaks and troughs can even incentivize workers to take their vacations during lower sales months by offering an extra day or two of PTO. These work-life balance benefits can help increase morale and job satisfaction.

At the same time, employers benefit from reduced staff turnover, can offer extended customer service hours, and empower people to work when they are the most focused and responsive. One NASDAQ-listed company launched a test dividing up call center workers between home offices and the call center office over nine months. The WFH group yielded a 13 percent increase in performance (attributed to fewer sick days and a quieter and more convenient work environment), higher work satisfaction, and a 50 percent lower attrition rate.

Increase Productivity

We often assume that longer hours lead to higher productivity and even higher quality. When it comes to human capital, that is seldom the case. Working long hours may simply mean that workers are procrastinating, socializing, daydreaming, or conducting personal business instead of being focused on work. These are frequently symptoms of workers not engaged with their work or their place of business.

Research has found that flexible scheduling/work location have been shown to improve engagement. One study found that workers with flexible schedules logged 39 percent higher productivity and reported a 64 percent greater ability to focus than workers with no flexibility. Working from home, a benefit preferred by the majority of workers who have the option, has proven to yield higher levels of productivity. It also cuts down on tardiness due to transportation issues, presenteeism, and sick days – as more people are willing to work through minor illness if they don’t have to dress and travel to go into the office.

Much of this can be explained by having fewer distractions at home than in the workplace, the ability to take more frequent breaks and return to their desk rejuvenated and focused, and the ability to engage directly with family members – helping to bridge work-life balance issues. For workers who feel marginalized or devalued at work, working from home levels the playing field so that their performance is judged primarily by productivity, and less on networking and socializing.

Retain Your Talented, Knowledgeable, Experienced Workforce

In many industries, employers are losing top talent by insisting that workers return to the office now that the worst of the pandemic is over. A recent survey found that 64 percent of workers at top companies said they would forgo a $30,000 raise for the privilege of working from home – that’s how much WFH means to their families and their work-life balance.

In addition to fulltime WFH or a hybrid schedule, there are other meaningful benefits employers can offer to retain talented staff and reduce turnover, such as:

Career Opportunities

  • Formal training and mentoring programs
  •  Subsidized college courses and advanced degrees
  • Cross training among co-workers and other departments
  • Leadership/management training
  • Paid sabbatical leave

 Financial Wellness

  • Student loan repayment assistance
  • High-interest savings accounts with matching contributions (designed for emergency and short-term savings goals)
  • Spot loans that can be repaid through payroll deductions
  • Low-interest medical deductible finance programs via payroll deductions to augment high-deductible health plans

Productivity Incentives

  • Allow staff to choose their own schedules and the days they report for work provides autonomy and the power to make decisions regarding their work and personal life. It promotes a positive mental attitude, confidence and assertiveness, which can help them become more productive, ambitious, and successful.
  • Increased paid time off – Reward higher productivity levels resulting from worker decisions about when, where, and how they work by giving them extra time off when they meet measurable benchmarks in record time.

 Family-Friendly Benefits

  • Childcare resources
  • Childcare subsidies for emergency care
  • Eldercare resources
  • Student tutorial resources
  • Family planning resources (adoption assistance, surrogacy, IVF, egg and sperm freezing)
  • Marital counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Grief counseling
  • Basic legal assistance
  • Paid parental leave
  • Extended parental leave
  • Dedicated nursing room
  • Emotional support to address the risks of postpartum depression
  • Flexible phasing out and returning to work scheduling due to pregnancy or illness
  • Paid caregiving leave (disabled, elderly, mental health)
  • Bring-your-child-to-work day
  • Family-friendly company events

Grow Brand Awareness

While advertising has its merits, few paid marketing efforts offer as much resonance as word-of-mouth positive reviews. This is especially true in an era of influencer platforms and viral videos. There are several ways to tap this robust brand awareness opportunity. First, retaining a fulfilled, rewarded, and engaged labor force is paramount. The people who work for a company are uniquely positioned to tout its brand with authority and authenticity.

Not only that, but one study found that 84 percent of job seekers say the reputation of a company as an employer is important – so happy workers can help you recruit more top talent. Employers that build a reputation for a healthy work-life balance become appealing places to work – and word does get out to competitors.

Next, positive customer experiences have a way of multiplying and sending waves of new customers to your door. When customers talk about their purchases or experiences via written or video posts, those reviews can go viral and expand brand awareness. These brand advocates may even make suggestions that can help your business create new products and expand to new markets.

Investing in People is Investing in Business

No matter the job, work can be stressful even for the most privileged. When you combine that stress with juggling issues at home, it can have a direct impact on productivity and performance at work. Employers cannot solve problems at home, but they can implement policies and benefits that make it easier for workers to solve their own problems. Whether it’s time, space, resources or financial assistance, aligning family and work-life benefits with specific business goals can help both the employer and its workforce achieve success.

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