Want the Best Employees? Give Them a Good Work-Life Balance

September 24, 2015 Nicole Klemp

work life

We’ve been talking a lot about the Worker Experience lately. Partly because enterprise technology has made it very relevant to our world, and partly because Appirio itself is known for its exceptional Worker Experience — and we know how important it is for companies as a whole. Most employees would agree that a “good” Worker Experience includes work-life balance. And for most people, work-life balance means that the things most important to you (family, friends, pets, health, etc.) don’t suffer because your job takes up too much of your time and energy, or doesn’t offer enough flexibility for you to be fully present in those areas of your life.

Personally, my job experiences run the gamut from companies that offer zero work-life balance to a company that makes it a top priority for employees. Two years ago I became a parent, which added a whole new level of importance to my work-life balance. Many parents (women in particular) leave the workforce when they have a child — often because their jobs are too demanding or lack family-friendly policies.

And it isn’t just about having the flexibility to pick your child up from school when they’re sick, or being able to work from home when someone is coming to repair your dishwasher. It’s also about working for an organization that doesn’t make you feel guilty for having a life, but instead encourages it. Company-sponsored wellness programs, robust maternity (and paternity) leaves, appropriate facilities for nursing mothers, and paid time off for community service are all great examples of things that companies can do to make a big impact in their employees’ lives. Just these offerings alone could be the decision-maker for a potential job candidate choosing a company, or for a parent deciding if they’ll return to work after their child is born.

Companies today are also competing for talent in the “gig economy.” Many skilled workers are leaving traditional jobs to seek out a more flexible work environment through contract work, freelancing, or crowdsourcing. This “gig work” allows individuals to utilize their skills while having complete control over their work-life balance. Job flexibility is so important to some that it even trumps higher pay. In Appirio’s recent survey of IT executives and professionals, we found that 81 percent of IT workers would be more likely to leave a job because of a lack of flexibility than because of unsatisfactory compensation.

Forbes recently released their results for the 25 best companies for work-life balance. For the 3rd year in a row, Colgate-Palmolive topped the list. The company offers employees nearby childcare centers, emergency in-home care for dependents, tuition assistance, counseling services, and relocation assistance. What struck me most about this list was not necessarily which companies were on it, but how many different industries are represented. Unsurprisingly, Google made the list — along with several other tech companies — but so did companies like H&R Block, Ford, Costco, and Wegman’s (the grocery chain came in at #2). If these companies can provide their employees (who span the spectrum of job types) with great work-life balances, any organization should be able — and encouraged — to do the same.

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