February 22, 2013


Work-Life Balance Policies: A Key to Attracting and Retaining Talent

By: Claire Kittle

This month I want to offer valuable advice about work-life balance from my good friends at Illinois Policy Institute.

At the Institute, they value work-life balance and are always experimenting with new approaches and policies to attract and retain their most important asset – people. Kristina Rasmussen, the organization’s Executive Vice President, recently polled staff about what matters to them when it comes to work-life balance. She distilled the feedback down to 15 policies that help maximize staff happiness and performance.

This month I’ll share the first seven policies; I’ll share the rest next month.

1. Culture. Maintain a positive office environment where people support one another and genuinely want others to succeed. Combined with a dedication to mission, people feel more motivated to work hard and perform their best. This is foundation on which everything rests.

2. Flexibility on work hours. We all have lives outside of work. Flexible scheduling – provided the work gets done – has the dual benefit of increasing employee satisfaction and developing a trust relationship with the supervisor.

3. Flexibility on location. Some people work better from an office, while others prefer an open conference room, a quiet home office, or a busy coffee shop. Can you accommodate the location that helps them thrive? Do you need to insist on someone coming into the office before going out into the field if going straight there saves time and money?

4. Professional development. Most of our staff engages in some kind of professional development outside of our office. These programs range from State Policy Network-sponsored educational programming to training offered by professional organizations related to a particular discipline.

5. Feedback. We do a formal performance review quarterly for an employee’s first year and annually thereafter. But we also provide information check-ins on a regular basis. Said another employee: “Employees are frequently promoted from within, and we embrace individuals who seek to gain experience in a new skill. Promotions, compensation increases, and bonuses are frequently awarded to those who excel.”

6. Benefits. We offer a very generous benefits package that includes free life insurance, health care including coverage for dependents, and an IRA program including a substantial employer match.

7. Retreats. We do a twice-annual all staff retreat and departmental mini-retreats. It’s a chance to break up the routine, think big, think ahead, and get to know each other as people.

Pretty good stuff, right? Wait until you see next month’s ideas! We’ll also include thoughts about how to get started on your own organization’s work-life balance policies.

A final quote from Kristina to keep in mind: “The right policies help to bring out the best in your employees. Bad policies drive people away.”

Claire Kittle, Executive Director of Talent Market