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Quantifying the Value of Work_Life Balance

Some data to back up what you already know.

October 16, 2001
Less work and more money? One day in the office and four from home? Massages every fourth Wednesday?

What do today's employees really want from their employers?

That question has spurred renewed interest in work/life initiatives, especially among employers who thought they were too small to have one. But, what can employers reasonably expect from work/life programs? Is the investment worth the effort? Research compiled at Work|Life Benefits in Cypress, California, gives you a little data to back up your claims if you're trying to sell the CEO on a work/life initiative.

Enhanced Recruiting

  • Work/life benefits are as important as health insurance, according to 90 percent of 1,000+ employees surveyed by the Gallup Organization in 1998.
  • As many as 20 percent of non-working mothers with young children do not seek employment because they see quality child care as unaffordable or unavailable.
  • One-third of college students and interns surveyed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999 said that work/life balance is the most important characteristic of the "ideal" company to work for.

Trimming Costly Absenteeism

  • In 1997, the average employee missed 11.5 workdays to handle personal and family matters, not including sick days.
  • Family issues account for more than 26 percent of absences, compared to 22 percent for illness.
  • 33 percent of employees utilizing employer-provided work/life programs reported fewer absences as a result.

Keeping Pace with the Workforce

  • The number of US households with annual incomes under $50,000 will grow 3.2 percent by 2003, and more than 12 million of these will claim incomes of less than $10,000, up 5 percent from 1998 (with less earning power, employees will turn to employers for more non-compensation benefits).
  • More than one-fourth of surveyed workers said that balancing work and family is more important than competitive salary, job security or the need for an advanced degree.
  • Male employees are 10 percent more likely to quit over work/life conflicts than female employees.

Balancing the bottom line

  • In contrast to the S&P 500, which showed an overall 89% return for the years 1996 through 1998, the 61 publicly-traded companies that made the Working Mother list of "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" showed a return of 98 percent.
  • By one major bank's estimates, work/life programs save 14-18 hours per employee per use.

SOURCE: Work|Life Benefits, Cypress, CA, March 9, 2000. 1-800-949-7948.