Tag: work life balance

HRInsights Weekly Lightbulb 11/10

This Week’s HRI “Lightbulb”  – Employee Happiness: Holiday Parties

In Switzerland, companies do not invite spouses, significant others, partners, and/or life partners of their employees to holiday parties.  That is horse crap!  Work many times invades the private lives of your workers, so include the “better halves” in your merriment and year-end celebrations.  Oh, by the way, the Swiss are not funny either, and their parties are mind-numbingly boring.

Time Is Running Out – So Take It!

The end of the year is fast approaching and it always seems that there are employees who have yet to request time off.  Some companies have “use it or lose it” policies and others allow employees to carry over all or some of the unused time. But don’t let the policy be the manager, as leaders of your organization, you need to think about the following:

  • Have your employees taken or scheduled their vacation?
  • Will employees have unused vacation at the end of the year for which they will want to be compensated in cash?
  • Can the company afford to cash out unused vacation?
  • Do you have a vacation carry-over policy and is the policy clear on how unused, earned vacation is handled?

Having employees with a unused vacation time at the end of the year is not an advantage to the business.  Quite the contrary.  If you don’t have a carry-over practice, employees will be disgruntled at the loss of time off.  If you do have a carry-over practice, then you as the employer will have to carry the financial expense onto the books for next year and your business operations will have to absorb even more time off in the daily operations.  It is better to proactively manage employee time off.

Now is a good time to take a look at what time employees have remaining and encourage employees to schedule and/or use their vacation to avoid an end-of-the year rush that may interfere with business operations.  Your encouragement will let your employees know that taking time off is important and that you care about them and their well-being.

I am a firm believer that vacations are for taking and that work-life balance is a benefit to the workplace.  Sure, there will be unusual circumstances that may cause an individual to miss or reschedule some or all vacation, but it should not be a regular occurrence.  If this is a regular occurrence, the management team must investigate and fix this problem.

Carryover can be a great way to allow flexibility for employees but as stated earlier, the employer carries the cost onto their books for the next year.  If an employee couldn’t squeeze in the two weeks this year and you make them feel good by allowing them to carry it over, how will they get the four weeks in next year?  The employer needs to be able to support a carry-over policy within the parameters of its business operations.  If carry-over becomes systemic it will, sooner or later, demotivate employees or you will find yourself issuing large lump sum checks.  In some states it is mandatory that employees be compensated.

Employers can support their employees by helping them plan to take time off.  Nothing is worse than getting to the end of the year with remaining vacation days and then being told that you can’t take them when you want.  Also some employees deliberately don’t use vacation if they can get a big payout at the end of the year.  This doesn’t support the practice of time off for work-life balance.  A little bit of organization, encouragement and management from their direct supervisor will keep the operations running smoothing and will assure all employees are getting the time off they deserve under the guidelines of your vacation policy.  Employers and managers will be rewarded with refreshed and invigorated teammates.

How Do You Define Success?

At a time when the recession has impacted so many people leaving them jobless and looking for new careers, many are reevaluating what is really important to them.  Ironically, making top dollar doesn’t seem to be the top priority.  Many folks have worked for years and climbed the corporate ladder and then reached a point where the ladder fell over or they decided the air was too thin up top.

In Eve Tahmincioglu’s recent article, she specifically addresses women who have shifted their definition of successes by working flexible hours, part-time and job shares.  They are finding their professional lives rewarding and still being able to prioritize personal aspects of their lives.

Some people voluntarily reshape their definition of success while others find themselves redefining their careers as a result of job loss.  Being out of work unexpectedly does cause hardship, fear and uncertainly, but it can force people to reevaluate what is REALLY necessary and important.  As a result, both voluntary and involuntary exit from a job offers the opportunity to re-balance personal and professional priorities.

It is not different for employers.  As businesses continue to make difficult decisions and changes (staff reductions, budget cuts, program eliminations, no pay increases, hiring freezes, pay cuts, benefits cost increases to employees, etc.) they will need to also create new priorities for ways to attract, optimize and retain top talent.  That means thinking of new ways to appeal to existing employees and applicants.  It means a new way of defining success.

Sometimes employers find themselves resistant to creating flexibility.  Often they wait for employees to offer up flexible solutions rather than taking a proactive approach.  When the employer is proactive, it is less likely viewed as favoritism.  I have had executives tell me it makes them feel like they don’t have control when they allow employees to work at home, part-time, or flex hours/schedules.  I challenge them to rethink.  If employers set clear expectations and measurable objectives, employees will be appreciative of the flexibility, leading to higher morale and productivity.  The result is greater success.

Employers shouldn’t waste time fighting flexibility, but rather invest time in creating flexible work solutions that fit their business environment.  Redefine success for the business and each job.  Not every job can have the same flexibility.  To assure fair treatment to employees, all employees doing the same job should have the opportunity for the same flexibility.  If there is a requirement to limit flexibility to only some employees in the same job, establish clear guidelines based on non-discriminatory criteria.

Being flexible, doesn’t mean giving up anything, it may mean actually getting more.  In fact, flexibility could be your new definition of success.