The recent economic downturn has put pressure on all of us. According to a 2009 study by the Corporate Executive Board, work-life balance currently ranks as one of the most crucial workplace attributes, second only to compensation, among over 50,000 polled global workers. This is no small point because, according to the same study, workers who feel that they have achieved a satisfying work-life balance tend to work 21% harder than those who don’t.
But what does work-life balance really mean?
In the recent past, many companies have interpreted this to mean that employees wish to save time by having services they need on location, such as a gym, health care facilities or a dry cleaner. But the truth is that only about a quarter of employees in most companies tend to take advantage of facilities like these. And they cost the company a lot of money.
More astute companies have come to realize that what many employees really want is time. Specifically, many employees tend to value the ability to manage their own schedule – to be able to get the job done on their own terms.
Companies Tailoring Work Life Policies to Suit Employee Preference
The most clever companies – maybe yours, for instance – are beginning to actually ask their employees what work-life balance means to them and then develop a work-life balance policy based on what they hear. They are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, but because it gets better results for them, both in the short and long term. In the short term, they get happier, more productive employees, per the point in the opening paragraph. In the long term, these employees stick around. This saves the company a lot of money in recruiting, hiring and training costs, which are notoriously expensive endeavors.
If someone from HR asks you the question “What does work-life balance mean to you?” what will you answer? It’s a question worth asking yourself, because more and more companies are doing it. Why? Because as we dig our way out of the Great Recession, smart HR departments are realizing that their workforces are weary. They have been downsized and asked to do more with less for a long time. It is time to refresh, renew and reward them. And now you may be able to work with your HR department to shape your company’s work life balance policy. And if no one is asking you the question, maybe you could drop them a hint.
So make a savvy career move and give it some thought. Here is a video to get your brain going on the subject. (A 15-second ad precedes the video content.)
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