In a perfect world, personal life and work-related responsibilities are in absolute harmony. There's no stress, no job dissatisfaction, and no reduced productivity. In a perfect world, when we list our priorities, we give equal weight to home and work, and our scale is in balance.
The savvy employer recognizes that more often than not, time is more important than money to employees. The ability to choose a work schedule, telecommute, or cut back on hours, without fear of monetary loss or employer repercussion, is a major perk. Having the opportunity to be flexible results in less stress for your employees, which results in higher productivity, less turnover, and an overall happier workplace.
Here are a few ways you can use the gift of time creatively to make your workers’ lives easier.
1. Change the nine-to-five mentality of the workday.
Ask workers to give you eight hours within the range of hours that works for your business. For parents, for example, having flexibility in the morning or afternoon will eliminate some worries and costs associated with child care. Some families are faced with having to leave for work before the school bus arrives. Still others may be able to get their kids to piano lessons if they could only leave work an hour earlier.
And even for those without kids, different hours may simply work better for them. Maybe one wants to start early so she can get to her pickup soccer game in the afternoon, while another is really not a morning person and prefers to work late. Affording employees some time options is a win-win scenario. An employee allowed to choose their own work hours will give you the best of themselves, by working when they feel they are the most productive.
2. There’s no place like home.
For those with particularly long commutes or small children, telecommuting at least some of the time is an attractive option. Between transportation costs, lunches, and other miscellaneous expenses, working at home often results in significant savings for your employees without costing you much or anything. Plus, when the daily grind of simply getting to work is removed from the equation, you will have an employee singularly focused on your business.
3. Allow extra PTO for family obligations.
Family is important. Often, we all need just a little more time than we feel we have to fulfill family obligations. Everybody has someone who counts on them to be there during the important times, even if it’s not their children. Married folks have spouses, singles have siblings and cousins, and parents fit into everyone's mix as well. Employers who make family a priority have happier employees. And employees who can consistently attend the mid-day parent/teacher conference, ballet recital or little league game won't beat themselves like others who simply can't make it due to inflexible bosses and work schedules. No one wants to feel like they aren't in contention for parent of the year. Allow the use of paid time off for these important family obligations, and also for unscheduled emergencies. Sometimes, just a few hours can make a huge difference.
Of course, paternity leave should be a part of the equation as well. Just because the U.S. doesn’t mandate it (yet) doesn’t mean your employees don’t want it. Giving new dads the time they need to bond with their babies will make them much more relaxed when they do come back to work.
4. Welcome the kids a few times per year.
Consider allowing employees to bring their school-aged kids to work when they may have a need to do so. Every office probably has at least one space that can be a designated "kids’ corner." Aggregate a few games, some digital toys and a couple of beanbag chairs and you have a place where kids can hang out. This is perfect for the person whose day care center closes for the holidays, or when a child is not really sick enough to have to stay in bed, but not well enough to go to school. When workers know they can bring their kids with them if they need to, there’s no scrambling around at the last minute trying to find a babysitter and getting to work late and flustered.
5. Extend the holidays.
Turning those three-day weekends into four-day weekends will allow your employees to really take a holiday without dealing with the worst of the traffic bolting out of town on Friday or getting back into town on Monday night. You might also consider half-day summer Fridays to let everyone get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. How much really gets done on a Friday afternoon during the summer, anyway? Giving employees extra time around holidays and other special times acknowledges their need to celebrate without worrying about work.
Every worker in America is pressed for time. It’s our most precious commodity, and often the most appreciated gift—but giving your employees more of it costs relatively little compared to other, flashier perks. Manipulating time as an employee benefit makes for happier, more focused workers, and makes yours a more attractive workplace to top candidates.
Let our experts help you craft your employee benefit package to meet your employees’ needs as well as your budgetary ones. Contact usfor more ways to attract and retain quality employees.