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Origami fortune teller concept for work life balance choices

Why these companies want you to stop working (for a bit)

Ah, work-life balance. Definitely not a new concept but one that is continually discussed in the media, around the water cooler, and at home. Can you really have a career, a spouse, kids, good health, a hobby, good friends, and a white picket fence and ensure that each receives its proper attention? I don’t know the answer to that question , but I do know that several companies are working hard to get their employees to stop working, at least for awhile, and assist them with the juggling act called life these days.

Below are cool things 5 companies are doing to keep things in balance:

Airbnb, Inc.:

Every employee at Airbnb, a website for people to rent out lodging, receives $2,000 per year to travel anywhere in the world. In addition, the company’s office houses a large open kitchen where a personal chef feeds the staff every day.
My thoughts: I’m a big fan of companies who treat their employees the way they treat their customers, and Airbnb appears to be one of them. A website that encourages its customers to travel, also encourages its employees to travel. What a concept! According to a study revealed in the LA Times, travel is incredible medicine, linked to decreased risks of heart attack and depression and even the promotion of brain health. Also, assuming Airbnd is serving up healthy food, ensuring employees are eating well can reap major benefits in productivity.

Yext:

Yext is a New York City technology company that enables businesses to update location-related information on multiple websites from one place. This company offers its employees two free meals each day as well as in-office nap rooms for employees who need a little break.
My thoughts: Free food and naps. Two of my favorite things for sure. Again, assuming the food is healthy, providing meals for employees sends a huge message that they are valued. As for naps, I could talk about their value all day long and so could several researchers touting the benefits of even a 10 minute nap. A short nap can provide an immediate boost in performance, decreased blood pressure, improved alertness, enhanced creativity, and a boost in willpower. If all of this is true, I’d think every company would want to install and promote nap rooms (along with alarm clocks of course) 🙂

GEICO:

Geico, the auto insurance company with the gecko as their spokesperson (ahem, animal), makes a point to support the hobbies of its employees. For those who are runners, GEICO sponsors a number of races each year in locations across the country, and even pays for those employees who want to participate. Other supported activities include Zumba classes and softball.
My thoughts: Hobbies are healthy. Studies have shown  that having a hobby brings on a host of physical and mental benefits. Even more beneficial is including coworkers in that hobby. Fun and laughter can create huge connections between people which can carry over into the office. Better working relationships produce better results and can improve the bottom line.

Discovery:

Discovery offers an in-house wellness center and childcare facility to ensure that employees have all their needs taken care of.
My thoughts: Squeezing in a workout during a lunch break is awesome and I applaud any company that offers a wellness center or subsidizes memberships to the one down the street. But imagine if your meeting finished early and you could spend that extra 20 minutes playing Go Fish with your 4 year old? It would be very hard for me to leave that company!

PricewaterhouseCoopers:

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a multinational professional services company, allows its employees to take unlimited paid sick leave –  not just for their own illnesses but also to care for older adults and kids.
My thoughts: After reading on, the result of the benefit PwC offers is that the number of sick days taken by its employees, on average, went down, not up. “You actually got more productivity,” their CEO says. I’m happy to see that some companies are starting to understand that this kind of flexibility can produce better performance because it motivates the employee to work harder when they do work, produce higher-quality work, and develop greater loyalty for their company.

I could close with my own words but I believe Ron Friedman from CNN says it best:

‘Instead of endorsing the work-life balance myth, organizations are far better off empowering employees to integrate work and life, in ways that position them to succeed at both. Ultimately, it is companies that are quickest to realize that it is in their financial interests to care for the entire employee –not just the sliver of them that sits in the office for 40 hours a week — that stand to gain the greatest benefits in the form of stronger loyalty, higher engagement, and top performance.’

Employers, are you listening???