Work-Life Balance: How Small Businesses Can Make It Work

Mother’s Day — this year it’s May 14, 2017 — is a day once a year to honor mothers. It’s also a reminder that many of these mothers have double duty — child care and careers — so hence the idea of the need for a work-life balance.

This concern isn’t limited to mothers; all workers have lifestyle interests (leisure, family, personal pursuits) that need to be balanced against the demands of working. For small business owners, helping employees achieve, to the extent possible, some balance is something that can and should be done.

 

Company benefits of balance solutions

It’s not just employees who benefit from having companies support their personal needs. Companies benefit by:

  • Attracting and retaining valued workers who may not have the same support from other employers
  • Having more loyal and productive employees. Studies have found that flexible work programs resulted in happier employees who suffered less burnout or other problems at work.
  • Saving money through reduced sick leave.

 

Work-life balance policies

An employer that wants to offer help to employees striving for work-life balance can institute certain actions, including:

 

Flexible work schedules

These include flex time, job sharing, and telecommuting options. While all of these options may not be suitable for all types of businesses, certainly some can be tried.

Here are some options for flexible work schedules:

  • Take a results-oriented approach to let workers set their own hours/location as long as they complete the work on time.
  • Create policies outlining rules for working at home (e.g., 2 day per week).
  • Allow schedules to be individually tailored; approval is required from the owner or manager.

 

Paid time off (PTO) policies

.Currently there is no federal law requiring paid leave for family responsibilities or paid sick leave. However, some states have paid family leave laws: California, New Jersey, New York (effective January 1, 2018), and Rhode Island. These programs are funded by employee contributions (payroll withholding); no employer contributions are required.  And some have paid sick leave programs: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Vermont.

There is also a growing trend to require time off to allow parents to attend school-related events and activities for their children. Locations requiring school/parental leave (with varying hours) include: California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Nevada law bars employers from terminating an employee for attending a child’s school activity.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a complete listing of state family medical leave laws.

 

Company-sponsored family events

Show an interest in an employee’s personal life by including their family in company events (e.g., annual holiday party, annual BBQ).

 

Conclusion

Creating a company culture that supports work-life balance is more than just adopting policies that sound good. It’s up to the owner and managers to set examples for staff on how to balance the demands of the job with the demands and attraction of family and other outside pursuits.

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