Work-life balance is a key recruiting point, but employees say that not all companies address the issue effectively.
Increasingly, companies are recognizing the positive effects of work-life balance policies on recruitment, performance and retention. But several recent studies by WorldatWork's Alliance for Work-Life Progress suggest that managers and administrators may be missing nuances that have a significant impact on employee satisfaction.
Do your programs tackle the most important issues?
In a 2010 survey of 55 companies (most in the Fortune 500), 83% of respondents said their companies' senior leaders' commitment to work-life balance increased or held steady during the year. However, far fewer companies are directly addressing the issues identified as the most serious causes of work-life imbalance: workload and stress. Instead, they address the symptoms of those problems with wellness programs and flexibility policies. In fact, nearly half of the companies ran career management programs in 2010, yet only 15% viewed that as a serious issue. At the same time, half of the companies planned to direct resources toward employee engagement and commitment.
Are policies being executed fairly?
A more recent study indicated that at companies with flexibility policies in place, employees feel penalized for using them, reporting repercussions including unfavorable job assignments, negative performance reviews and slower advancement. Manager responses confirm these suspicions. More than half of managers said the ideal employee is available to meet business needs regardless of schedule; nearly one-third feel that employees who use flexible work arrangements will not advance very far in their organizations. To combat this trend, educate managers about flexibility policies and set standards for performance so that using flex-time can't be used as a negative factor in employee evaluations.
Are your policies meeting recruiting and retention goals?
A third study indicated that job seekers and employees value benefits differently. Recruits, for example, place a high value on career development opportunities (above compensation), while employees see work-life balance as a leading motivational factor. To set reasonable expectations for both groups, prioritize, integrate and communicate your benefits based on the outcome you're aiming for: recruitment, performance or retention. And don't assume employees will hold the same priorities they did when recruited.
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