Work-life balance is dead. The concept that work and life are opposing forces is unraveling. And that’s a good thing for benefits. At the same time, working hours are getting longer, work-life satisfaction is increasing. What’s behind these seemingly counterintuitive trends?
Why ‘homing from work’ is on the rise
Driven by a compelling need to “do it all” in the era of 24/7 connectivity, today’s workforce is saying goodbye to “career and family” guilt and embracing work-life harmony – a seamless cohesion of personal and professional obligations and interests. In a sign of the times, 93 percent of today’s professionals are now “homing from work” (the opposite of “working from home”), i.e. conducting personal business on company time.
Modern employees want jobs that fit their socially conscious, eco-friendly, fitness-focused, app-enhanced lifestyles, and look for workplaces whose culture allows them to complete work and life tasks using the same resources. Whether it’s paying bills, shopping, scheduling appointments, booking travel, running errands, or engaging in social media, employees see no reason to separate responsibilities between work and home.
What this means for business
As this cultural shift toward work-life harmony becomes the norm, businesses can’t afford to ignore homing from work. Professionals who home from work about two hours each day cost companies an estimated $759 billion annually in wasted time and lost productivity. But stress, the modern workforce epidemic, is also costing American industry $300 billion a year.
Investing in practices that produce a less stressed and more satisfied and engaged workforce is crucial to the bottom line. Highly engaged workforces generate 29 percent more revenue, have a 44 percent higher retention rate, and increase annual profits by $2,400 per employee on average.
Businesses that recognize and respond to ever-changing employee needs with innovative perks and policies will be setting themselves up for greater productivity, less turnover, and decreased recruiting, training, and health care costs – a smart business decision not just for next year, but for a new era of company success.
How employers are responding
In an effort to attract and retain top talent, start-ups to mom-and-pop stores to giants with legendary on-site perks like Google and Yahoo! are looking beyond traditional benefits and finding innovative ways to keep employees happy, healthy, productive, and engaged.
Today’s top perks include game rooms and fitness challenges to foster wellness, collaboration, and creativity, concierge services to assist employees with personal requests large and small, time off for career- and life-enhancing opportunities including travel, continuing education and mental health sabbaticals, and family benefits such as parental leave, child care and pet insurance.
Some companies are really thinking outside the benefits box. Timberland and Patagonia offer paid leave for volunteer service, Scripps Health reimburses employees for child adoption fees, and Netflix refuses to set policies around working hours and vacation days, which translates to flexible work weeks and unlimited time off.
How ‘homing from work’ impacts benefits selling
Innovative employer strategy, clearly defined office policies, and specialized benefits can play a role in minimizing the negative effects of homing from work and maximizing employee engagement and productivity. Encouraging work-life harmony can help employees manage stress and take care of multiple commitments during business hours, allowing them to give the best of themselves at work, at home, and in life. Here’s how homing from work fits into sales strategies:
- Know the numbers. Clients might not be aware of the effect homing from work is having on their business. More than 90 percent of employees are doing it? It’s costing companies how much? Providing them with statistics and information about stress, engagement, productivity and work-life trends can help them make better-informed benefits decisions.
- Offer versatile access. For perks to work, benefits programs must fit the modern employee’s lifestyle. EAP, wellness and concierge services that offer ease of access on mobile apps, tablets and other devices will see much higher utilization rates, which in turn means businesses will see a higher ROI. Interactive modules, responsive design and 24/7 customer service are key differentiators to look for among benefits providers.
- Don’t underestimate the power of perks. Perks and benefits don’t have to break the bank; any size business can offer attractive low-cost perks that make a big difference to employees. Yoga classes, community service days, weekly catered breakfast or lunch, free car washes, and group discounts on movie tickets, gym memberships, and technology products are simple, cost-effective strategies to make businesses more productive and employees’ lives easier.
ACI Founder and CEO Dr. Ann D. Clark and President Erin Krehbiel are regular contributors to BenefitsPRO. See their recent article below, originally published on BenefitsPRO.