Are your work/life balance efforts off-kilter?

To keep employees engaged and productive—and on staff—flexible schedule options and other related perks are crucial. Make sure your organization is striking all the right chords.

Work/life balance has been a hot engagement topic in recent years.

Employers have offered flexible scheduling, telecommuting options and more to retain staff and build a positive culture.

How are we doing, though, at affording employees balance between home life and work life they require?

Workplace stress is still a big problem, even more so than it was 10 years ago, costing U.S. businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost productivity. Around 70 percent of the workforce is still disengaged, and progress has been stagnant. Research shows the following:

  • A 2016 survey of 500 working Americans by Public Policy Polling found that nine in 10 of them, especially part-time workers, are stressed out about their personal finances.
  • Robert Half also found that only 52 percent of women feel they are paid fairly, compared with 58 percent of men.
  • In April, CareerBuilder reported that two in five workers have gained weight at their current job, and that the percentage of their excess weight correlated with the severity of their workplace stress.
  • OfficeTeam showed that although 63 percent of executives think they are excelling at work/life balance, only 34 percent of employees feel the same, reporting a lack of flexible schedules and adequate vacation time.

Despite all that, work/life balance is improving in certain industries. Here are the highlights from other key sources:

  • A study from Unify showed that 50 percent of knowledge-profession employees feel their work/life balance conditions have improved over the last five years.
  • According to Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey, the top drivers of business success for the largest cohort in the workforce are still employee satisfaction, loyalty and fair treatment.
  • Gallup reports that 37 percent of the workforce telecommutes at least two days per month.
  • A 2015 WorldatWork/Flexjobs study found that 80 percent of employers offer flexible work arrangements or schedules when possible.
  • In SHRM’s 2016 Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, 88 percent of U.S. employees surveyed reported overall satisfaction with their current job, the highest level recorded over the last 10 years.

We’re not doing terribly, but there’s room for improvement. If you care about work/life balance for your employees, try these options:

  • Offer remote positions. About two-thirds (64 percent) of companies with flex programs have no formal or written policy, so there’s no excuse not to try it. Demand for telework will only increase, and as many as 86 percent of employees want to work independently.
  • Increase reward and recognition efforts. In a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, only 36 percent of employees reported feeling appreciated for their work, and the communication gap between executives and employees is growing. Rewards and recognition are an easy way to close that gap.
  • Balance your efforts. Favoring one side of the work/life balance equation can send the wrong message. Balance your work programs with things such as gym reimbursements, health savings accounts and Friday hours to save employees time and money, lowering stress and increasing engagement.

Cord Himelstein is head of marketing at Michael C. Fina Recognition. A version of this article first appeared on TLNT.

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