Hiring difficulties and the competition for top job candidates today have been well chronicled, but staffing challenges don’t stop once new employees are onboard. Companies also are intensely searching for ways to retain star employees.
Naturally, one means of maintaining your dream team is offering attractive salaries and a competitive bonus structure. Compensation alone may not be enough to keep your highly skilled employees from seeking opportunities elsewhere, however.
Recent Robert Half Management Resources research suggests that workers, especially Millennials, are asking for—and receiving—better work-life balance. More than half (52 percent) of the professionals surveyed said they enjoy greater balance than they did three years ago. Among workers ages 18-34, that number jumps to 67 percent.
Workaholism is out, and work-life balance is in. To keep your company’s employees happy and productive, help them better manage their personal and professional lives. Here are five tips:
1. Lead by example. Supervisors who send emails during off hours are also sending their staff mixed signals: Should employees be working or relaxing when not on the clock? Managers set the tone, and workers tend to pay closer attention to actions than words.
Help make work-life balance a cornerstone of your corporate culture by emphasizing the importance of unplugging at night and on weekends as much as possible. If managers can’t resist working when they should be recharging, they should at least respect their staff’s downtime.
2. Publicize available options. When wooing top job candidates, you most likely touted all the ways your organization promotes work-life balance. Don’t let that message fall by the wayside after they’re onboard.
Regularly highlight perks that help staff destress and manage competing priorities. You may find that employees don’t know about the varying opportunities available to them, such as alternative schedules and remote-work arrangements. Also stress the importance of using vacation time to take a break from work and recharge. When staff members feel you care about their needs, they’re more likely to stick around.
3. Get feedback. While the desire for work-life balance is evergreen, how employees achieve that may vary with their responsibilities and the times. Keep your finger on the pulse of preferences by regularly checking in with your team. As appropriate, also consider conducting anonymous staff surveys for additional insights.
Ask employees how satisfied they are with the current offerings and what suggestions they have for improving benefits. You could also request feedback on potential new options, such as on-site daycare, unpaid sabbaticals, a low-cost concierge service, and compressed work weeks (for example, four 10-hour days).
4. Give the gift of time. Delight your staff with unexpected time off and office closures. Ideas to consider include:
- After the department or company exceeds a quarterly goal, give everyone the following Friday off so staff can enjoy an unexpected long weekend.
- Consider closing the office around major holidays when work is slow.
- Look for opportunities to give employees, especially those who consistently work late, an extra day off or to let them leave early on a Friday as soon as their schedule permits.
5. Hire more hands. When your company is short-staffed due to a busy season, spike in activity, or sudden leave, giving employees extra work can lead to stress, grumbling, and low morale. It also can result in lost productivity as the burden on staff members mounts and motivation drops.
A better alternative is to work with a specialized staffing firm to bring in consultants and interim professionals. If the work-life imbalance stems from a sustained increase in business, hire additional full-time employees. The important thing is to not tax employees with more work than they can reasonably handle.
Top performers enjoy their work but also place a high value on personal development and family time. To minimize turnover and its negative effects, help staff members achieve and enjoy greater work-life balance. The potential for this to make your team happier at work, more loyal, and more productive is well worth the investment.
Tim Hird is the executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level accounting, finance, and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 140 locations worldwide and offers assistance to business leaders and consultants at roberthalf.com/management-resources.