Supporting the Balancing Act: How to incorporate family in the workplace

Peanut butter and jelly, fruit snacks and a water-“ check, check and check. Your child is all set for school, but you’re left with that guilty feeling of trying to balance a career and family time. The stress immediately becomes overwhelming, and you begin searching for some sort of alternative. Unfortunately, for some that alternative means being less productive or present at work. According to The Office for National Statistics, 48 percent of professionals are unhappy with the balance between work and home life. In today’s job market, work-life balance has become a precious commodity and one that attracts and retains top talent.

At my company, Assurance, we strive to provide an enriching experience focused on the whole employee, not just the employee at work. Besides quarterly casino days, learning lunches, volunteer opportunities and the oh-so competitive Guitar Hero matches, our goal is to ensure that winning at work does not mean losing at home. Implementing a culture that promotes family life creates a winning situation for all, including the employer. These are just some of the positive outcomes:

  • Attracting well-qualified job candidates

  • Lower absenteeism

  • Higher job satisfaction

  • Improved productivity

  • Higher employee retention rates

  • Increased marketability

How should an employer effectively mesh the importance of family with work? Here are a few key ideas:

Expect a gift when you’re expecting. Whether it is an expectant female employee or wife of a male employee, a congratulations gift package is always a nice gesture. Packages can include gift cards to local baby stores, books on pregnancy and preparing for a newborn, as well as a picture frame for the sonogram. Importantly, the offering should include all of the necessary information on the benefits provided through the workplace and how to take advantage of them. A step-by-step guide and checklist is also helpful.

Be flexible with the clock. Over 82 of the Fortune 100 companies offer telecommuting opportunities, as compared with only 18 in 1998. As this company trend continues to increase, experiment with different telecommuting and schedule options to see what works best for your employees. Remember, flexibility nurtures trust between employees and the employer, as well as creates more efficiencies for all parties involved.

Adopt benefits for adoption. Institute adoption benefits for employees. One example is all regular, full-time employees who have been with a company for at least one year are eligible for a 50 percent reimbursement of adoption-related expenses with a maximum limit of $10,000. This benefit shows your company’s support in what can be a taxing process for enlarging a family.

Keep Active. Health care costs will only continue to rise. Promoting the importance of healthy lifestyles among family members will keep your employees healthier, along with your company plan premiums. Promote fun wellness activities that involve the entire family, such as 5k’s (runs or walks). Also, partake in Take Your Child to Work Day and host a fun parent-child fitness class onsite.

Don’t forget the spouses. It can’t always be about the kids. Involve spouses in benefit enrollment meetings, wellness screenings and any incentive-focused prizes. As health care consumers, spouses should also be present in the enrollment process and have access to wellness resources.

Aruba. Jamaica. Ooh, I want to take a-¦Vacation! Try to incorporate any discounts on business travel to personal travel as well. For instance, there are multiple personalized travel assistance programs that help companies with booking, as well as provide guaranteed lowest airfare and discounted rates on hotels. Extend this offer for booking family vacations. A rested, more renewed worker will come back with greater productivity and appreciation.

Now, you might be thinking “Great! How much will this set the company back?” The truth is-¦it won’t.

According to a recent Gallup employee engagement survey, 17 percent of U.S. workers are actively disengaged on the job, costing an average of $16,000 each. If 17 percent of Assurance’s 240 employees were actively disengaged, this would equate to an expense of $652,800. Minimize those costs by engaging families. The greater the work-life balance, the happier most employees will be. In turn, if employees are happy, they are more likely to refer new talent. On average, 77 percent of our new hires resulted from employee referrals, which saves Assurance more than $350,000 in recruiting costs. On top of this, engaged employees are well-equipped to create great experiences for your clients to keep them coming back. You see -“ enriching your company’s culture to include family just makes “cents.”

Lisa Pinion, SPHR, is senior vice president – Human Resources, at Assurance Agency Ltd., based in Schaumburg, Ill. She is responsible for developing, managing and administering, all human resource related strategies, programs, policies and procedures for the company. She can reached at [email protected].

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.