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health and financial issues, the MetLife report
notes. The number jumps to 66% for those
workers who report they are very satisfied with
their employers’ benefits.
The results from the MetLife trend study
represents 1,503 interviews with benefits deci-sion-makers at companies with staff sizes of at
least two employees. It was conducted during
the fourth quarter of 2009. The employee portion of the survey involved 1,305 interviews
with full-time employees.
Job satisfaction tied to benefits
Meanwhile, the relationship between
benefits satisfaction and job satisfaction is
paramount. For example, group A believes
that their employer does an effective job of
communicating their benefits, while group B
believes that their employer does not do an effective job in communicating their benefits.
“What surprised us in the report were the
overwhelming differences in the opinions
between the two groups on their benefits satisfaction, job satisfaction and loyalty to their
employers,” Raczko says.
Of employees who are highly satisfied
with their benefits, 81% said they were satisfied with their jobs, while among workers who
are not satisfied with their benefits, only 23%
said they were satisfied with their jobs. The
data also show that job satisfaction is linked
to benefits coverage. In cases where employers reduced benefits or matching contributions or shifted costs, workers reported lower
satisfaction levels, compared to employees at
companies where benefits stayed intact.
Employers can earn an immediate return
on their benefit investment with increased attention to benefits communication. “We have
complied compelling evidence that benefits
value is created through benefits communications,” Raczko says.
There is this schism, however, on how employees and employers perceive the power
of benefits in driving employee loyalty. The
good news for employers is that employees
value benefits more than employers realize.
Employers routinely underestimate just how
compelling their own benefits programs are.
“Benefits communication creates greater
benefits awareness and greater benefits un-
derstanding level, which creates higher job
satisfaction and loyalty — all the reasons why
employers offer benefits in the first place,”
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Quality of Life
PCL Construction, a general contractor with
over 4,000 employees, allows employees the
flexibility to set their own schedules, between
7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Most districts have summer
hours, and the company offers unlimited sick
days, which can also be used for the care of sick
family members. Interestingly, PCL has found
that these policies rarely are abused.
Toymaker Mattel closes at 1 p.m. on Fridays,
year-round, to allow employees longer weekends. It’s one of the single most popular perks
Sabbaticals are a great work-life balance
perk, and some companies have exceeded
the norm by offering exceptional benefits
in this area. The Men’s Wearhouse offers an
unusual practice for the retail industry by giv-
ing employees a three-week paid sabbatical
for every five years of employment. Whole
Foods Market’s sabbatical leave can last as
long as 24 weeks, depending on how long
an employee has been with the company,
and the employee’s job is guaranteed upon
In today’s economy, helping employees
during financial need or stress is a growing
necessity. Law firm Alston & Bird provides a
catastrophic sharing program that allows employees to donate accrued vacation and personal time to other employees. It’s designed to help
employees who are dealing with the devastating
illness of a family member, who’ve exhausted all
available paid leave of their own and who will
face financial hardship because they have to
take significant time off without pay.
During busy tax season, working Saturdays at Plante & Moran, a Michigan-based accounting firm, is a fact of life. To make things
easier on employees, they offer free child care
on Saturdays during tax season at 11 of their
Boston Consulting Group instituted a red
zone report, which highlights those individuals who’ve worked more than 60 hours per
week, on average, over a period of five weeks.
The report is distributed weekly to management and, if someone is identified as being
in the red zone, there’s a process in place to
determine what can be done to lighten the
Helping employees with their dependent
care needs is another aspect of work-life balance. EBay, which also owns Skype and PayPal,
enables communications among family members after a new baby has arrived by offering
Skype-related benefits to all employees.
The company’s Skype-a-Bye Baby program gives expecting employees and their
spouses three free Skype phones — one for
the parents and one for each set of grandparents — so they can talk more frequently
during this special time.
American Century Investment, meanwhile, added a new surrogacy benefit, similar
to an adoption benefit, up to $10,000 to pay
for medical expenses.
Hopefully these examples have given you
some inspiration and creative ideas for new
work-life balance benefits. Offering work-life balance programs is the right thing to do.
They contribute to increased productivity,
retention, morale and serve as a great recruitment tool. —C.L.
Contributing Editor Cathy Leibow is vice president
of employee loyalty services for LesConcierges Inc.,
a provider of global, concierge-supported loyalty
services and solutions. She can be reached at 800-
829-1165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.