Schools of Thought on Making Work-Life Balance a Priority of Your Business

Posted February 26, 2014 in Latest News & Insights

Culture is an important element in your company’s success. It might even be THE most important thing that determines success or failure. Culture plays a huge part in attracting great talent, retaining your best people, motivating and inspiring people to do their best work, and in turn, attracting customers and ensuring growth.

Your employees’ health, job satisfaction, and productivity depend on how you prioritize work-life balance in your company culture. We believe there’s more to it than creating a new policy or program overnight. So, how do you do it? Where do you start and what are companies doing now to make sure work-life balance is a priority?

Lead by example
Leadership must maintain healthy work-life balance and model this for the entire organization. Josh Menelsohn, partner at Hattery, wrote about this topic recently on WSJ.com.

[blockquote align=”center”]A company’s founders are its first leaders. They establish the tone, and by default the culture of the organization. As a founder, the values you expect to be present in your team must start with you. My partners and I work to maintain a healthy work-life balance so that our team will strive to do the same. Sometimes that means taking a two week vacation — and sometimes it means taking a 2:30 a.m. international Skype call en route. By necessity, company culture all starts with strong leadership. [/blockquote]

Two schools of thought
There are two ways companies think about making work-life balance a priority for their corporate culture.

  1. Encourage employees to bring their lives to work
    There’s been a trend for companies to offer on-site amenities like laundry and dry-cleaning, food services, workout facilities, child-care. The idea is to create a village (of sorts) so you don’t have to leave the office or campus to take care of personal things in your life. Bring your life to work!
  2. Give employees the freedom to choose
    We believe the first option may be attractive to employees at first glance, but is not a sustainable business model. First of all, a company that says, “Here is everything you need so you never have to leave us!” is a little creepy when you think about it. Secondly and more importantly, a small business can’t realistically offer those things because of the expense and time it takes to maintain those services. The good news is, you don’t have to.

The second school of thought on work-life balance says, “We give you your time and the freedom to work where and when is best for you.” Wait, is it really that simple?

Best work-life balance companies

Companies whose employees rate them as the best for work-life balance include Nestle Purina Petcare Company, SAS Institute, and Facebook. What are they doing to make work-life balance a priority?

  • Nestlé Purina Petcare Company – you can bring your dog into the office (Fido loves this option!)
  • SAS Institute – on-site child care, a heathcare center, and a fitness center
  • Facebook – tons of on-site amenities
  • MITRE – flexible schedules

You might have noticed these are large companies. How is a small business going to compete with all that? On-site amenities are really expensive and have to be maintained for the long haul.

The answer for small businesses, and any organization for that matter, is to go beyond flexibility, telework, or a village of services. This kind of thinking is stuck in the past!

Here’s what one HR expert has to say about aggressively prioritizing work-life balance:
[blockquote]The more liberal companies can be with letting people pick their own schedule times, letting them work from home, letting them—especially people who travel a lot—have no established schedules, letting people leverage technology to work from anywhere—the more companies aggressively offer those things, the higher their retention” says Dick Finnegan, a former human-resources director and CEO of C-Suite Analytics, which helps companies decrease employee turnover. [/blockquote]

There is no work-life program or flexible schedule that is more comprehensive than a Results-Only Work Environment. In a ROWE, employees can do whatever they want whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.

What that means is each person is 100% autonomous and 100% accountable in equal measures.

[fancy_box]Today’s guest blog post is courtesy of Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson at ROWE.[/fancy_box]

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