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book excerpt

Paul Vasarhelyi

This is a excerpt from Building a Magnetic Culture by Kevin Sheridan. Copyright © 2012 McGraw-Hill Inc. All rights reserved. Printed with permission from McGraw-Hill Inc.

Work/Life Balance

The majority of people spend more hours at work than they do with family or friends. Unfortunately, 90 per cent of American mothers and 95 per cent of American fathers report work-family conflict. While engaged employees are motivated and dedicated to their organization, it is important for employers to recognize these employees need time away from the workplace to stay engaged.

There are countless ways for supporting a positive work/life balance; however, the key is to offer options. Employees have different needs, so allowing choices is the best way to support a diverse staff. Flexibility in scheduling is a major bonus for many employees. This added value oftentimes makes employees appreciate their position more than they would have otherwise, which leads to commitment to the organization and builds a strong foundation for engagement. Adjustable scheduling can also help attract top talent; 72 per cent said flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another.

To build a Magnetic Culture, it is crucial for employers to take the time to create a means for employees to have a healthy balance between the workplace and their personal lives. This arena is one where organizations can get creative to develop unique offerings that truly set them apart from the competition. A few colourfully inventive options are the following:

1. Rather than classifying the workweek as five days long, allow employees to work four 10-hour shifts. This schedule enables employees to have three days off each week instead of the typical two-day weekend.

2. When possible, incorporate a work-from-home policy. Offering this benefit even a few days per year can make a difference.

3. Make day care available to staff on-site or incorporate a benefit which would provide day care at a discounted rate.

4. Establish a deal with a local dry-cleaning service or even consider having one on-site.

5. Offer a tax preparation service benefit.

6. Offer free gift-wrapping services during the holidays and for special occasions.

7. Consider presenting high-performing employees with family vacation packages in addition to, or in place of, monetary bonuses.

8. Offer concierge services to help employees balance the many errands in life.

9. Offer scheduling of flextime, where employees can provide their input on their preferred work schedule (7 a.m. to 4 p.m., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). If multiple employees request the same shift, offer a rotating schedule to satisfy everyone.

10. Offer seasonal hours, where employees can leave early on Fridays during certain seasons.

11. Make yearly anniversaries with the company an extra paid time off day to encourage employees to celebrate their tenure. This day off will also serve as a reminder that their employer cares.

12. Encourage employees to avoid checking their work e-mail and voice mail after the workday and on weekends, to separate work from their personal lives.

13. Allow employees to take a longer lunch, if they come in early or work later, to make up the missed time. This option will make it easier for staff to schedule appointments or run errands on their break.

14. Hold virtual meetings, so employees do not have to be on-site to attend.

15. Encourage employees to take frequent breaks to rehydrate and go to the restroom (at least once every two hours). This may seem unnecessary to address, but many busy people forget to take time out of the day for their personal well being.

While you may not be able to initiate all of these suggestions, even tackling a few will help employees see your organization's concern for true work/life balance in the workplace. Address these recommendations with your leadership team as soon as possible to tailor your approach and set your plan into action.

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