Professionals want a healthy balance between their personal and professional lives. Savvy finance executives help them achieve it.
You and your firm expend a lot of time, money and effort to recruit top performers. Once you get great people on board, the last thing you want is for them to burn out, grow disgruntled and seek a position elsewhere.
An area of growing focus for many companies looking to strengthen their retention efforts is work-life balance. Robert Half Management Resources research shows the evolution of this trend. Fifty-two percent of workers surveyed said they enjoy greater work-life balance now than three years ago.
What’s happened in those three years? It could be as simple as supply and demand. Professionals are asking for – and receiving – better work-life balance, and employers are doing what it takes to keep their best workers happy. If your company doesn’t meet this demand, your employees may start to look for one that does.
Following are steps you can take to help your employees achieve the balance they seek:
Survey your staff
You won’t truly know what perks your employees desire unless you ask. Put together a questionnaire about options they’d like to see in the workplace. Then decide which ones make sense for your company.
Customize your offerings
Not everyone will have the same needs, of course. Telecommuting might be craved by some employees, with others preferring a compressed workweek. Some will be drawn to on-site services such as dry-cleaning pick-up and a nap room, but discounts to external offerings are more attractive to other individuals.
The key is finding out what each of your staff members seeks and offering a menu of options to help employees reach their goals. While your work-life balance program will have standard components, it should be flexible enough to accommodate workers’ individual needs when possible.
Invest in technology
Reach out to your information technology colleagues to see what tools are available that can help your staff gain better balance. Cloud-based financial platforms, video conferencing software and virtual private networks are powerful tools to help professionals work smarter and faster.
A word of caution, however: Talk to your team about avoiding the potential downside of such tools. Let them know that just because they can access work around the clock, they’re not expected to be online or available 24/7.
Lead by example
Are you modeling healthy work-life balance for your employees? If you’re sending midnight emails and working 60-hour weeks, then you’re sending a not-so-subtle message staff should be doing the same. To foster a balanced environment, engage in work-related communications only during office hours as much as possible. Encourage employees – by your deeds, as well as your words – to unwind at night and recharge on weekends.
The same goes for vacations. If you seldom take more than a couple days off at a time, or if you have a habit of checking in frequently while away, your staff will follow your lead and be afraid to use their time off. Unplugging can be challenging, but breaks offer personal and professional benefits.
Many business leaders appear to have heard this message loud and clear. More than seven in 10 respondents in the Robert Half Management Resources survey said their manager sets a good or excellent example when it comes to work-life balance.
Bring in extra help
So your full-time staff members aren’t overly burdened during peak periods, bring in financial consultants and interim workers to assist. Project professionals are also a boon when your department faces employee leaves, unexpected deadlines or sudden vacancies. Your team may be able to add a few more tasks to their already-full plate, but it’s not fair to give them more than they can reasonably handle.
Top finance specialists demand an above-average compensation package. However, an attractive paycheck alone is often not enough to keep talented professionals happy and productive. A strong work-life balance program goes a long way toward boosting job satisfaction and, ultimately, retention.
Carrie Wentling is the director of member services for Financial Executives International.•