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Linking Retention and Work-Life Balance: What Can Employers Do?

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/11/2011

Does your organization have a growing list of baby boomers? Have you explored work life balance strategies that can make employees more satisfied and productive? This article explores work life balance and staff retention. It ends with examples of work life balance strategies.

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    If you still need convincing on the reasons for retaining staff, think about the cost incurred after hiring a new employee. You'd include Work Life Balance obvious costs, such as the cost of hiring and training. However, there are hidden costs too, such as the monetary value of decreased productivity and tacit knowledge loss. Retaining staff and ensuring work life balance for staff members that provide value is a priority for all organizations.

    As part of making staff stick, organizations offer competitive salaries and provide all sorts of benefits, such as Gym membership. For a more detailed look at all the basic employee benefits, refer to the Employee Perks: A Must For Every Organization article. Are these perks enough? Or, do employees value one employee benefit more than another?

    The truth of the matter is that employees tend to reprioritize the value of these basic employee benefits as their life evolves. For example, when an employee is a bachelor, it maybe easy for him to stay back late to complete work. Similarly, the priorities can change after marriage and even more after have a children. Suddenly, the employee would need to take off time for attending doctor appointments and may prefer to decrease the commuting time to work.

    In other words, the employee would reprioritize according to the situation. This is when staff retention and work life balance is critical. Employees are known to look for opportunities elsewhere, if their lives aren't balanced. Therefore, from an employers perspective, you should look at an employers life in a holistic sense, instead of segregating it as personal and professional.

    Next, let's look at the type of initiatives you can take to provide employees with a better work life balance.

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    Staff Retention and Work Life Balance Initiatives

    As discussed in this article, employees are affected by challenges posed by life. Therefore, the HR strategies you implement must be focused on the needs of the employees. Some work life balance initiatives that you can implement are:

    • Flexi-hours: Is useful for employees that need to leave work for a short while for personal activities, such as doctor appointments and school visits. Providing this staff retentiona and work life balance strategy depends on the role and the personality type of the employee. If an employee is
    • Family Care Leave: Is useful for employees that need time off from work, but intend to join back soon. For example, there may be a personal medical exigency that requires an employee to stay at home and take care of an elderly.
    • Telecommuting/Work From Home Options: Is useful for employees that live far from work.If a the commuting time is 1.5 hours, then imagine the satisfaction the parent of a new born would spending that time with the child, instead of travelling.
    • Compressing Workweeks: In this staff retention and work life balance strategy, an employee works fewer number of days, but puts more hours in each day. For example, an employee may work 10 hours a day, 4 times a week instead of 8 hours a day, 5 times a week.
    • Days Off: Typically, Satruday and Sunday are days off. In this strategy, the days off can be changed to the needs of the employee, who may prefer them to be on a typical working day.

    Most of these initiatives require technology and setting expectations. For example, if an employee is working from home, you need to provide the necessary technology to enable him or her to complete the assigned work. You'd probably provide broadband access, a laptop, and access to video conferencing facilities. Employees should also be informed when they are required in person at the office location because some tasks require the employee to be present. For example, a Technical Architect might be required for a workshop with the client during requirements gathering. Setting expectations is the key.

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    Image Credit: SXC

    Lohr, Nicole A. (2008). Competing for Human Capital: Employee Retention through Work-Life Initiatives. Published Capstone, University of Denver.