Employee Benefits That Emphasize Work-Life Balance
Offering perks, and implementing health and wellness programs, separates you from your competitors and are affordable on any budget
Stacy Martin, WorkLife Balance Plans, LLC, LIVING WELL Magazine (formerly SENIOR Magazine)
What is work-life balance? Work-life is the practice of providing initiatives designed to create a more flexible, supportive work environment, enabling employees to focus on work tasks while at work.
It includes making the culture more supportive, providing programs to meet life event needs, establishing policies that give employees as much control as possible over their lives and using flexible work practices as a strategy to meet the needs of both business and employees. (definitions by Susan Seitel, WFC Resources president and founder)
Human-resources experts say that a generous ‘one-size-fits-all’ package of health insurance, vacations and a 401(k) plan used to do the trick, but in today’s increasingly multi-generational and diverse work force, employees expect their employers to recognize that in addition to having a job, they have a life. So it makes sense to offer a menu of core benefits plus voluntary options so employees can buy what’s right for them. Also, offering a wider menu of benefits can create an advantage in employee recruitment/retention, especially for smaller businesses that compete with larger employers for talent.
As a result of the focus on work-life balance, the voluntary benefits marketplace has evolved significantly over the years. Voluntary benefit offerings have traditionally consisted of several types of insurance products. Today, a fast growing (yet often overlooked) area of voluntary benefits involves services that are made available to the employee base, with little or no cost to the corporation. These services generally provide employees with unique savings (discounts) or value that goes beyond typical retail offers (travel and health club memberships, automobile leasing), or help simplify the employee’s personal needs by saving time and providing easy access to needed resources (concierge services, value added services, on-site cleaners and daycare, financial and legal services).
Debbie Smith, owner of WorkLife Balance Plans, LLC, which offers health and wellness solutions and consultation for employers, says that one of the most powerful means a company already has to increase productivity and employee engagement is to encourage employees to go on vacation! “When we talk about the dangers of stress, most people think of chronic stress, but social stress is a natural part of life. There is no escape from everyday stressors – financial obligations, deadlines, job and relationship pressures. There is only management and relief. To maintain a strong state of mental health, the human body needs to relax, experience a release of tension and opportunities for rejuvenation. A vacation (absent from the iphone and computer!) provides these vital health benefits,” says Debbie.
Savvy employers understand the value to business and morale of rested employees. They even have programs in place to help the employee plan and vacation with ease, and provide adequate support during their absence, preventing a return to a stressful week of catching up. “Employee vacations yield a significant ROI for the employer,” say Debbie, “the research speaks for itself.” According to the statistics from the Austin Business Journal, for every $1 of vacation benefits provided by the employer to its employees, it receive a $3 return in the form of improved productivity and morale. Debbie sites the following statistics:
• U.S. workers gave back $21 billion to their employers by not taking vacation last year. Still, that brought no joy to many in the executive suite, who noted that companies lost $150 billion in 2002 in healthcare costs related to worker burnout. – Courier Post online
- Middle-aged women who took vacations very infrequently (defined as once every six years or less often) had eight times the risk of either having a heart attack or dying of heart disease. – Researcher Elaine Eaker
- A study of 46,026 employees found those who report depression, heavy stress or other risk factors are far more likely to have extremely high healthcare costs. The burned out employee will utilize medical services, experience increased sick time and have lower productivity, all costing the employer money. – Health Enhancement Research Organization, Birmingham, AL
Companies today have many options for concierge services and value added benefits that treat the employees like VIPs, including travel related services, that make planning a vacation less time consuming and stressful.
If you would like a complimentary consultation relating to innovative wellness benefits and incentives for your company, please contact Debbie Smith.
WorkLife Balance Plans, LLC
Innovative Employee Benefit Solutions