Completing life’s list before five.
It’s not sheer luck that companies offering work/life balance programs have less employee turnover. General Mills, a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer food products, boasts a higher employee retention rate than the industry average because by helping its staff members balance their personal and professional lives, it also is helping the company recruit and retain great people, says Erin Dunn, director of corporate services at General Mills.
The associates at General Mills, based in Minneapolis, are encouraged to be high-performance-oriented during business hours, but the company also recognizes that “employees today need to access family, health and quality-of-life resources at work,” Dunn says.
Instead of surfing the Internet during office hours to find a doctor or auto mechanic and then scheduling a visit outside of the workplace, General Mills employees can utilize on-site services at the company’s headquarters, saving time and reducing the stress of running errands and to off-site appointments.
Without leaving the building, General Mills employees can see a doctor or dentist and get prescriptions filled at the company’s medical facility. Employees don’t have to carpool to the office while the car is in the shop. The on-site auto service center provides tune-ups, fueling and car wash services while employees stay focused on their jobs.
While not all companies have the space or budget to offer a wide range of services on-site, many organizations are dedicating some office space and resources to providing work/life balance options.
Cottage Health Systems, for example, provides on-site day care at its Santa Barbara, Calif., headquarters, which has been key in recruiting and retaining employees, says Afshin Fatholahi, vice president, support services, at Cottage Health Systems. With more than 45 children currently enrolled in the day care center and demand increasing, the health system is opening a second center this year to accommodate an additional 30 kids. A deli that will offer dinners to go also is under way.
The health system also brings in professionals to its facility to provide employees with work/life balance services, such as weight loss and smoking cessation meetings, and aerobic and yoga classes, Fatholahi says. Other special amenities include desk-side delivery of specialty coffee and professional chair massages.
Another option that has seen dramatic growth in recent years is concierge service. San Diego, Calif.,-based ACI, The Specialty Benefits Corporation, provides corporate employees with a “virtual assistant” to help them find products or services, which could include everything from the hottest concert tickets to a local veterinarian. It’s a low-cost, high-visibility benefit that can easily address employees’ work/life balance concerns, says Erin Judy, vice president of sales at ACI.
Associates at General Mills “find that taking care of errands while at work allows them to spend more time with their families in the evenings and on weekends,” Dunn says. “Having convenient on-site services not only increases the quality of work/life for employees, but enables them to better balance extremely busy work and personal lives.”