Do you live to work or work to live? The answer is probably a little bit of both. Job satisfaction and a good starting salary are likely high priorities, but if your personal and professional lives are at odds with each other, you can't enjoy the benefits. Thanks to increased flexibility in the workplace, work-life balance is more attainable than ever. Here are the best employee benefits for achieving a healthy work-life balance:
Alternative work schedules
According to an October 2013 survey on workplace flexibility by World at Work, the 4/10 work week – where employees work four 10-hour days in the office, followed by three days off – is the most common alternative work schedule. Another popular option is the 9/80 arrangement: Individuals work nine-hour days Monday through Thursday and get every other Friday off.
One advantage of an alternative work schedule is that more intensive time in the office may allow you to get more deeply involved in your work and boost your productivity. Another perk: Travelling to and from work outside of normal commute hours can help you avoid rush-hour traffic.
Another take on alternative schedules is flextime. This is when your employer requires you to be in the office on certain days or available for a certain number of core hours each day. You have flexibility in setting the rest of your schedule.
Here's an example of flextime in action: If you're a parent, you might start at 7 a.m., before the majority of the team arrives at work. Your early arrival allows you to be home in time to pick up your kids from school. On the other hand, if you're a night owl, you might shift your schedule so you start at 10 a.m. and make up the time by staying later in the evening.
Policies vary by employer, of course, but choosing your schedule can be truly liberating. By making your work fit your personal life, instead of the other way around, you have a much better chance of achieving work-life balance.
The Society for Human Resource Management reports that telecommuting is likely to continue to grow. Many firms feel that working remotely is one of the best employee benefits an organization can offer. In a survey by The Creative Group, one-third of advertising and marketing executives polled said telecommuting has increased among their creative staff in the past three years. Other sectors where telecommuting is a common practice include accounting and finance and information technology. In fact, people who telecommute from home, or perhaps from a coffee shop, typically are more productive and have greater job satisfaction than in-office workers, according to an article by the Harvard Business Review.
Many workplaces are adapting to meet the demands of modern families. One of the best employee benefits for parents is on-site child care. If your company offers it, you'll enjoy not only the perk of low-cost or free child care, but you'll also have comfort in knowing your children are nearby.
Some of the best employee benefits, policies and programs are those that foster harmony between the demands of your work and your personal life. If your work-life balance is wanting, you may consider inquiring about new options at your current job – or search for an employer that can offer what you need. Whether it's an alternative work schedule or on-site child care, taking advantage of perks that give you flexibility and control will lead to better job satisfaction.