If you follow business news, you’ve likely read an article or two about the trending topic of work-life balance. Particularly as more millenials* enter the workforce, companies have had to keep up with their growing level of consciousness around work-life balance. Many millenials have seen their baby-boomer parents struggle with the stresses of a rigid American corporate culture that seems directly at odds with being healthy and enjoying life. They’re looking for a business culture that sees them as human and supports their right to balance personal needs with professional performance.
Millenials tend to be energetic, sharp, and eager to tackle complex projects and build their portfolio of achievements. They’re increasingly health-conscious and savvy about the balance between their careers, families, mental and physical health.
This consciousness is not limited to the younger generation. Older generations are jumping on the work-life-balance bandwagon as well. A 2015 Gallup poll surveyed 24,230 working adults aged 18 and older, and found that efforts by management to support employee well-being increased employees’ engagement at work significantly (by more than 10%). You can read through the methods and details of the Gallup poll here.
So what can companies do to make sure they attract and retain energetic millenials and healthy older adults? Employee retention is a major goal for small and mid-sized businesses in particular. Growing organizations rely heavily on their top performers for revenue and structure. Attracting and retaining talented and motivated employees can often mean the difference between a business that is able to manage growth and one that is not. This exhaustive list of statistics shows the wide range of factors that keep employees engaged and happy at work. A few stand out as they pertain to work-life balance:
“Career satisfaction and work-life balance are the top reasons American employees stay at their current jobs (38% combined).”
“54% of millennials say their loyalty to employers is influenced by how much their employer cares about their well-being.”
“33% would change to more empathetic employers for equal pay, and 20% would switch companies for less pay.”
The connection between the growing health-consciousness of the workforce and the stats on employee retention seems clear: businesses that support the well-being of their workforce, through office wellness initiatives and a culture of balance and flexibility, attract and retain better employees.
Most companies that have seen monumental growth in the 21st century have implemented a clear strategy of supporting employee well-being. Google is one of our favorite examples, because they have invested heavily in a culture of supporting employee health. Many of their offices offer on-site physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage services. They also have on-site fitness centers, personal trainers, and group fitness classes to make it convenient for employees to stay in shape. Their campus cafeterias offer nutritious meals and snacks to fuel productivity.
There is no doubt that this humanitarian approach has been pivotal to Google’s success. When Google was a startup, it relied heavily upon the performance of a few highly productive employees. The company’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, recognized that supporting the well-being of these employees meant that they would remain with the company, because they felt valued. The company saw a burst of success with that strategy, and kept applying it as their company grew. And the rest is history.
Lee Dukes, president of Principal Wellness Co., a subsidiary of the Principal Financial Group, says “Wellness programs are clearly a win-win, especially at a time when employers and their employees are more budget conscious. Employers benefit by retaining top talent, energizing their employees and reducing the number of sick days. Employees benefit from improved physical health, reduced stress in the workplace and the financial benefits of maintaining good health”
The sum of the data appears to be that employees appreciate companies that show concern for their health.
How can growing companies apply these methods to their own workforce? There are a variety of things they might try, depending on the culture and demographics of their organization.
They can support their employees’ physical health by offering an on-site workout facility, group fitness classes, or reimbursing them for a gym membership.
They can offer educational and career development opportunities to help them build new skills and prepare for advancement. This shows caring for a worker’s intellectual health.
Mindfulness training is also a growing trend among businesspeople seeking to work more efficiently and balance their lives more effectively. Mindfulness meditation has been studied extensively for its’ ability to mitigate stress and employee “burn out.”
Offering such guidance shows that a company sees its workers as more than numbers on a balance sheet. Ultimately, every employee in the workforce desires to feel valued and treated as a whole human being. Where workers feel valued and supported, is usually where they will stay.
*Demographers define millenials as the generation born between 1980 and 2000.
Julia Workman, CYT
Julia is an experienced yogi, teacher and dancer with a passion for health. She is an integral part of the Maine Wellness Partners team of wellness professionals, providing yoga and fitness classes, in addition to powerful workshops that guide busy people toward healthier work/life integration.