Prior to Covid, things were changing in the corporate world. Many employers are starting to recognize the importance of encouraging a work-life balance among their employees. And, in today’s competitive job market, family-friendly work environments are becoming all the rage – for a good reason. But almost overnight, things almost flipped on its head
Since the start of the pandemic, the lines between work and family has become even more blurred. We have spent more time at home, but have we really spent more time focusing on family. I’d argue that we haven’t. Being home more doesn’t necessarily mean being more present.
Research has demonstrated that over-worked, stressed-out employees who are having difficulty balancing work and other life commitments result in lower productivity, decreased job satisfaction, illness, absenteeism and high turnover. Accordingly, it has become almost imperative to adjust company policy to accommodate the realization that employees’ life “balance” has a direct impact on business results.
What Are Work Life Balance Programs?
So what exactly are work-life programs? Essentially, a work-life program is defined as “…any benefits, policies, or programs that help create a better balance between the demands of the job and healthy management (and enjoyment) of life outside work.” (Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety). Examples of such initiatives include maternity/paternity leave policies, flexible work schedules, child and elder care programs, etc.
Who’s Doing Work Life Balance Programs?
Such a great deal of value has been placed on the work-life balance since it has actually garnered international attention. In fact, governments and companies of industrialized countries worldwide have started adopting “family-friendly” policies to help alleviate the longstanding work-life paradox. With advent of the pandemic, companies have been forced to revisit these newly introduced principals to their workforce’s way of life.
What Can I Do?
There are plenty of resources and ways to get started on adopting a work-life program for your corporate environment. For some fantastic resources and starting tips, visit the Human Resources Social Development Canada (HRSDC) website. Once again, companies are being forced to pivot about the work life balance subject. Many companies have been forced into survival mode over the last eighteen months. They’ve been more concerned about keeping the lights on rather than keeping their employees happy.
Work-Life Programs Ideas
How your work-life program will look is unique to your organization. Finding out from your staff what their needs are is the best place to start. There has been a definite shift in outlook towards what work life balance looks like today versus even two years ago.
In the meantime, here are some program ideas:
The Pre-Covid Programs
- Flexible work schedules
- On-site childcare
- Fitness membership
- Leave of absence policies – ie. Educational, family, etc.
- Seminars and workshops on a variety of topics
- Training and educational improvement programs
The Post Pandemic Programs
- Forced holidays- just because you’ve earned 5 weeks holidays, doesn’t mean you necessarily take them. Companies need to force employees to take their allocated holidays. Paying them out in lieu of taking them doesn’t alleviate the stress and anxiety and mental effect associated with the desired intent behind holidays
- Family Outing Days- companies can encourage employees to actively participating in family outings. Having a family outing paid for by the company.
- Vacation Fund Savings- the old saying, “what gets scheduled, gets done” applies here. Having a vacation planning fund, is a separate amount set aside by the company specificly for family vacations. Obviously, this may have KPIs attached to it, and potentially an employee contribution component, similar to some of the RRSP savings programs that already exist.
- Dinner with the Family Program- this is a program that the company pays for. A lunch/dinner that is sponsored by the company to promote eating together. Proof of purchase, spending limitations and frequency needs to be enacted to ensure it actually takes place. Currently, with things opening up, it’s encouraged that families get out of the house.
The challenge is how to police that such activities actually occur. Whereas former programs were centred around employees being at home more, the new programs are trying to encourage getting families out of the house.
What’s the best work life balance program that you’ve seen launched by companies in this post pandemic era? Is it the responsibility of the employer to force employees to participate? Is this going to be the future of work life balance for the workplace? The next six months will be very interesting to watch it unfold.
Chris learned through the bankruptcy of his first business; a strong balance sheet means nothing unless you can get the money out of your business and into your hands personally, tax efficiently, and creditor protected. Chris helps and coaches business owners to avoid a similar fate as he suffered in his first business.
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