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Brad Callahan
Vice President, Business Solutions Group
January 27, 2017

3 Ways Employers Get Work/Life Balance Wrong and How to Get it Right

When employers commit to work/life balance programs, they reap many benefits: productivity increases, absenteeism drops, and the perception of their organization’s brand goes up—an edge when it comes to recruiting top talent. However, because work/life balance is the latest, hottest employee benefit, many employers are cobbling together programs that are doomed before they even start, often resulting in disappointment for both employer and employees. Here are three of the most common missteps and how to avoid them:

1. Creating a program without employee input. Work/life balance typically means flexibility. It may mean flexibility in hours worked, flexibility in place of work (home or office) or a combination of the two.

Getting it right: A thorough survey of what employees want regarding work/life balance is the best starting point for building an effective program. Share the results of that survey with all employees and show how those results will further inform the collaborative process. In addition, set up channels for ongoing employee feedback to uncover and prioritize emerging issues and answer any concerns as they occur.

2. Failing to examine the impact of rewards and recognition programs. It’s critical to re-examine the metrics of your rewards and recognition program. Are there some that would be unrelatable to employees who spend a fair amount of their time off-site, or impinge on the flexibility required to address unpredictable family needs? This can be especially tricky for organizations whose business models rely on traditional forms of performance and productivity metrics.

Getting it right: Perform a review of your rewards and recognition programs to gauge how they align with your current business needs, properly drive the associated behaviors and activities necessary for success, and match up against the framework of your intended work/life balance program. Where there seems to be a disconnect or impairment, meet with managers and employees to create a alternative paths. And be sure to communicate changes broadly and clearly to help showcase the collaborative work and continuous improvement environment.

3. Committing on paper but not in reality. It’s bound to happen: an employee is working at home but is suddenly called in to attend an unscheduled meeting. Or hours working out-of-office are suddenly switched around due to a colleague’s illness or other disruption. Disappointment and cynicism about even the best-intentioned program can set in if these events happen too often.

Getting it right: Managers from c-suite to the manufacturing floor need to honor the commitment to the organization’s work/life program to the greatest degree possible. Implement a process for surfacing disruptions to the intent of the program and resolving as quickly as possible. Document benefits of the program (trends in productivity, lower absenteeism and better morale, for example) and communicate those regularly to management. Work/life programs often involve a shift in organizational culture so persist, and don’t become discouraged, when bumps in the road occur.

A carefully planned and executed work/life balance program is a strategic advantage. Far better to take the time to plan, set in place the processes for continuous improvement, be alert to internal or external disruptions that can affect your work-life program and take corrective action as needed. The positive impact on your organization is well worth the effort.

Would you like to see how your rewards and recognition program can complement work/life balance initiatives? Contact a Marketing Innovations solutions expert to start a discussion today.


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