The Four Missing Keys To Work-Life Balance
As Entrepreneur article “Improve your Employees’ Job Satisfaction” explains, employees who are able to balance their home and work responsibilities are more engaged at work and have better job satisfaction. And according to Gallup, engaged, happy workers are “more productive, more customer-focused, safer and more likely to withstand temptations to leave.”
Retention Boosts the Bottom Line
Gallup Research shows that greater employee retention is a direct boost to your bottom line. The Center for American Progress (CAP) reports that replacing an employee with an annual salary lower than $75,000 costs you 20% of that person’s salary. It’s why attracting the right talent in the first place is important.
CAP produced a report in conjunction with the Center for WorkLife Law (CWL), “The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict: the Poor, the Professionals, and the Missing Middle”, which addresses the importance of work-life balance for employee retention and other business advantages. Not to mention the benefit to your employees.
An Alarming Statistic
The report cites an alarming statistic. The study of manual, customer service, clerical, cashiers, and sales positions shows employee turnover was 20 percent in a single month, or 240 percent turnover a year.
As the report says, “That’s no way to run a business.” It’s why helping employees achieve work-life balance makes good business sense.
Who Needs Work-Life Balance?
Everybody needs work-life balance. Who finds it easy to get? Surprisingly, hardly anyone according to researchers. The CAP/CWL report by Joan Williams and Heather Boushey says that while the wealthiest 1% of the U.S. population is able to achieve it, the rest of us find it very difficult.
The answer to the question: Why can’t most Americans find work-life balance is really three questions, says New York Times writer Lisa Belkin in her “Three Faces of Work-Life Conflict” article about the CAP/CWL report. This, she writes, is why discussion of the subject to date often seems to ignore the needs of most Americans.
The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict
Aside from the wealthiest 1%, the CAP/CWL report divides U.S. families into three groups affected differently by the need for work-life balance.
- Professionals: Families with a median annual income of $148,000. This group’s median annual income has increased at a rate of 7% over the past 30 years. They’re the most likely to work up to 70 hours a week and get work conditions that enable them to do so.
- The Poor: Families with a median annual income of $19,000 and top incomes under $35,000. This group’s median income has decreased 29% in the last 30 years when adjusted for inflation. The families often have jobs with inconsistent or unpredictable hours and get few employer benefits to help balance work and home life. Being late often means being fired. There are some government subsidies to assist with things such as childcare, but they’re sporadic and inadequate.
- The Missing Middle: Families with a median annual income of $64,000, ranging from $35,000 to $110,000. Their median income, in inflation-adjusted dollars, has fallen 13% in the last 30 years. Neither rich nor poor—not as “vocal and visible” as the professionals or as “desperate as the poor,” as Belkin writes—their problems with work-life balance get the least attention and they receive the fewest favorable work policies or subsidies.
All Have the Same Core Concerns but Require Different Solutions
The report goes on to say, these groups all want the same things: to care for their families and spend time with them, and to keep their jobs. Because the groups have different specific needs however, they tend to believe the attention and help goes to everyone but them. This creates animosity between the groups—sort of a divide and conquer effect.
According to the report, we must:
- Recognize that no group has more claim on the challenge of work-life balance than any other; and,
- Government and corporate attention should increase in four critical areas—the authors’ suggested missing keys to widespread work-life balance:
- Workplace flexibility (“When Work Works, A Workplace Flexibility: A Guide for Companies“)
- Short-term and extended time off for family issues
- Dependent care —childcare, elder care and care for ill family members (SHRM article on how Employers Can Help)
- Elimination of workplace discrimination for those with family responsibilities.
Do you think these are the missing keys to workplace balance? How do you achieve work-life balance at your company? Let us know what you think!
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