Research on How Work-Life Benefits Improve Productivity

2009 Survey Finds Employees With Good Work-Life Benefits Work Harder

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A businesswoman looking at her work phone in front of her own shadow dancing, representing work life balance.

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In March 2009, CEB (formally known as The Corporate Executive Board) released a study it conducted on work-life benefits. All links to this study have been deleted but there are still many articles written about it (including this one). Here is what former Working Moms Expert Katherine Lewis had to say about this study:

Effective work-life benefits encourage employees to work harder and discourage them from quitting their jobs, according to research by the Corporate Executive Board.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, men and women hold similar views of work-life benefits, the board found in a survey of over 50,000 global workers. Moreover, star employees assign almost as much importance to work-life balance as other employees and have similar work-life preferences.

The report found that people who are happy with their work-life benefits

  • Work 21% harder
  • Are 33% more likely to plan to stay at that organization

Existing Work-Life Benefits

Current work-life benefits could be better, the report found. Only 16% of employees are satisfied with their organization's work-life practices. Nearly a third of workers are skimping on work to meet personal commitments.

The majority of people don't even know what's available to them. Fewer than one-third of employees are aware of their employer's work-life offerings. Work-life benefits might include permission for telecommuting, flexible hours and on-site or subsidized childcare.

Of those who are aware, only 25% say those offerings match their preferences. And more than half of employees never use the available work-life benefits.

Which Work-Life Benefits Do Employees Want?

Employees prefer work-life benefits that help them manage their workload. For instance, they like flexible work schedules, an appropriate amount of work, and predictable working hours.

When asked about the five most desirable employer practices,

  • 63% of employees included a flexible work schedule
  • 62% cited an appropriate workload
  • 13% was the average for all other work-life practices.

Recommendations for Employers

Companies should improve their work-life benefits and communicate them to employees, the report suggested.

"Employees don't necessarily have to use work-life practices to generate positive returns for the organization," the researchers noted. "Awareness of the work-life proposition is, in fact, slightly more important than consumption of it."

The most powerful factors that increase awareness and use of work-life benefits are:

  • Peers visibly using work-life practices
  • Clear implementation guidelines
  • Employee control

The report noted that there are significant geographical differences in work-life preferences.

Edited by Elizabeth McGrory

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