Offering Work-Life Balance Key to Recruiting, Retention – Part 1

This is part one of a two-part series on the growing importance of offering a work-life balance to employees in your company.

I’ve always worked too much. I promise my wife I’ll take time off every year for vacation, and I do. Just not too much – two weeks and I’m still connected. If I ever do retire, which I have no plans to do, that will probably mean I cut my workweek to 50 hours, down from 60.

That’s not an unusual work schedule for Americans. Especially for the Baby Boomers, a generation that expects to pay its dues and works long hours to be successful. They tend to be more motivated by money and prestige.

Hey, at least we aren’t as bad the Japanese, notorious workaholics. Some executives don’t even make it home at night, opting to sleep in hotel capsules, coffin-sized rooms stacked on top of each other like crates in a kennel.

The truth is I really enjoy my work as the Turnaround Authority. Yes, it can be stressful and the hours can be long. But it works for me. And I have plenty of time to be with my wife. We catch up with each other every single day with what we call Couch Time, a period of time where we sit on the couch and spend time discussing all aspects of our lives. When I’m on the road, I always call so we can still stay connected.

Achieving that work-life balance has become increasingly important and is instrumental in recruiting younger generations to your business. In fact, the definition of success has changed for many people. Having a work-life balance was ahead of money, recognition and autonomy for more than half the people surveyed in a study done by Accenture in determining whether or not they have a successful career.

And here’s a critical point. More than half of those surveyed had turned down a job offer because of the impact the new job could have on their work-life balance. Seventy percent of those surveyed believe that a satisfactory balance is possible, and often make their job choices based on achieving it.

In 2013, PwC announced results of NextGen: a two-year global generational study that focused on the motivations of millennials in the workplace. The study included responses from 4,000 people, both millennials and non-millennials. One of the key findings was that many millennial employees are not convinced that excessive work demands are worth the sacrifices to their personal life. A majority of them are unwilling to make work an exclusive priority, valuing work/life balance over rapid advancement and skill development.

So if you want to attract the younger generations, you have to think about work-life balance programs. In addition to offering these programs to recruit employees, they will also help you retain valuable employees and can actually increase their productivity as they will be happier and more focused.

Now that you understand how critical it is to offer work-life balance to your present and future employees, how do you do that? Come back for part 2.


Smart Businesses Recruit from the Military

Every year on Memorial Day we celebrate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and died serving our country. We also take a moment to acknowledge the 1.5 million men and women serving in our armed forces today, helping to protect the freedoms we enjoy in the United States.

In addition to being grateful for their service, smart businesses also recognize the value that young people who leave the military can bring to their companies.

In 2008, senior executives at Walmart were dealing with the potential vacuum of young leaders to grow into store management roles. Their usual recruiting methods couldn’t keep up with their projected growth.

The CEO, Bill Simon, who was a 25-year veteran of the Navy and Naval Reserves, suggested the company create a program to recruit junior military officers.

“The thinking was that we could bring in world-class leadership talent that was already trained and ready to go,” said Jennifer Seidner, a senior recruiting manager at Walmart. “And then we could teach them retail, because we know that pretty well.”

The Walmart JMO program was launched and dramatically changed how Walmart recruits young talent. This past February the company announced that effective this Memorial Day weekend, it would commit to hiring more than 100,000 honorably discharged veterans within 12 months of leaving active duty for all types of positions.

Walmart isn’t the only company that sees the value in hiring young, trained talent.

The financial services company USAA launched the “Combat to Claims” initiative to train post-9/11 veterans to become claims adjustors.

“The reason the program is working so well is because military folks have such a sense of discipline and order,” said Joe Robles, the CEO of USAA and a retired Army major general.

Each year Victory Media publishes the “Top 100 Most Military-Friendly Employers” index to serve the 400,000 military personnel who leave the service each year to enter civilian work. The list is based on surveys of businesses with annual revenues of more than $500 million.

The trucking company Crete Carrier is on the list and actively recruits military on its website: “We’re looking for men and women with honesty and integrity, who assume responsibility and adhere to a code of ethics. In other words, if you succeeded in the military, we’d like to enlist your services. Welcome home.”

Another company on the list is Travelers Insurance. “We find that military veterans bring dedication and discipline to their roles, and that they seek and accept responsibility readily,” said John Clifford, executive vice president of Human Resources. “The skills they learned during their military service transition well to any position within our company.”

Other companies that actively hire military officers include Deloitte, General Electric, Shell, Amazon, Accenture and PricewaterhouseCooper PwC.

Hiring veterans isn’t just a feel-good thing to do for your country. It makes sense for your business. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “We actively seek leaders who can invent, think big, have a bias for action, and deliver results on behalf of our customers. These principles look very familiar to men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and we find that their experience leading people is invaluable in our fast-paced work environment.”