Work/Life Balance: Ditch the Foosball Table and Provide More Meaningful Benefits
Did you check your work email while still in bed this morning? If so, you’re living proof of just how much the line between your job and personal life has blurred over the years.
But as an HR professional, you already know that. Employees are working more—they’re logging in from home, spending more hours in the office (those near the top of the ladder clock-in the most), and even skimping on hard-earned vacation days.
However, employers are stepping up too, offering employees an increasing array of benefits that can help them decrease stress and reach their personal goals, all while navigating the ever-shrinking divide between work and chill. On-site childcare and fitness centers, employer-funded student loan contributions, and paid time off for community service are just a few of the many tools in your HR arsenal that can help alleviate you recruit talent, retain the top-tier workers, and boost productivity.
With that in mind, here are four of the most coveted perks to consider.
1. Flexible Scheduling
Surprise! All those extra hours employees are logging may actually be hurting your bottom line, no matter how many foosball tables or free sandwiches you offer in your break room. In fact, employees care very little about those perks. The truth is, working long hours leads to health problems, on-the-job mistakes, and poor judgment. Burnt-out employees are less loyal, too; they’re the first to jump ship when another employer comes knocking. And here’s the kicker: Employees who put in a high number of hours may well be less productive than their 9-to-5 peers
But what happens when you give workers more control over their schedules, letting them dictate when and even where they work?
The leaders of the Executive Education program at MIT Sloan School of Management decided to find out. In partnership with the MIT HR department, they piloted a 35-employee, two-to three-day work-from-home program. Management encouraged employees in that program to be in the office on Wednesdays to collaborate, but otherwise they were given discretion to deviate from a strict schedule and unplug, as needed.
The result? Flextime nixed the commute, which alleviated stress, a benefit that’s far from inconsequential. Employee stress costs employers a staggering $300 billion each year in health care costs and missed work days. The program also increased productivity and the level of trust employees have in the company.
2. Unlimited Vacation Policy
Even in our workaholic U.S. work culture, currently, less than 1% of employers offer unlimited vacation time (via Entrepreneur). So, changing your policy can make your company stand out when the hottest talent compares you to your competition.
But you’ve got to make your policy clear. When offered the freedom to take more vacation, some employees just don’t do it. They don’t know how to take time off, so leadership should step up and provide cues. If management doesn’t take advantage of the perk, neither will their workers.
3. Maternity and Paternity Leave
Taking care of a newborn is hard, and asking new parents to head back to the office too soon after, before bonding with baby, can send them packing. They know they have other options and will seek them out.
Last year, 21% of large U.S. companies offered paid maternity leave. That’s up 12% from 2014. High profile companies such as Facebook, Credit Suisse, and Accenture are leading the pack, offering maternity and paternity benefits that far exceed the expectations set by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Enhanced parental leave can help you retain hard-to-nab top talent and lead to decreased turnover, which can save your company big bucks. Depending on the role and level, replacing an employee can equal anywhere from a month’s salary to one or more years’ salary.
4. Student Loan Repayment Benefit
Americans now owe over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, and the average 2016 undergrad student loan balance is $37,172. The monthly debt payments of borrowers translate to dollars your employees aren’t contributing to their 401(k)s, emergency savings accounts, or even to the 529 plans they’ve set up for their kids’ college education.
Employers that help workers pay back those balances can increase employee loyalty and significantly reduce employee financial stress, which will allow them to enjoy their free time and make strides toward other financial goals, such as saving for a house and retirement.
Ultimately, today’s workers want to know that their employers care about their professional and personal well-being. So, your work-life benefits program should reflect that. SoFi at Work can help you increase employee engagement and loyalty, and encourage a steady flow of attractive candidates to knock on your door.