Work-Life Balance as Part of an Employee Retention Strategy

Small and midsize business owners need to retain their top-performing employees to thrive. In addition to salary, the work environment is also a major factor when employees are deciding whether or not to stay with your firm.

In the effort to create a positive work environment that makes employees want to stay, smaller businesses often have an edge over big firms in the ability to be more creative with policies that address work-life balance, including flexible work arrangements. Consider some ways you can offer employees low-cost benefits they will deeply appreciate. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but it's true: sometimes small is better, even in business. Learn the surprising ways your small business can beat big firms in the hiring process.

Benefits of alternative work arrangements

One perk employees tend to strongly prefer is the ability to make alternative work arrangements — any scheduling pattern that deviates from the traditional Monday-through-Friday, nine-to-five workweek.

Flexibility is the basic idea behind alternative work arrangements. You give employees some measure of control over their work schedules, thereby making it easier for them to manage non-job-related responsibilities and maintain work-life balance. There's also a business rationale behind the concept. When it's easier for employees to deal with pressures on the home front, they are likely to be more productive when they're on the job — and less inclined to jump ship if one of your competitors offers them a little more money.

Looking for other ways to help employees become more productive at work? Read our free report on 30 Ways to Maximize Employee Productivity.

Types of flexible work arrangements

Flexible work arrangements can take a number of different forms:

  • Flextime. Flextime refers to any arrangement that gives employees options for structuring their work day or work week. In the most extreme (and rarest) form, employees decide for themselves not only when they work but also for how long. More typically, though, employees operating under flexible work arrangements are expected to be on the job during certain core hours of the workday. They're given the opportunity to choose (within certain parameters) their own start and stop times — as long as they work the required number of hours each day.
  • Compressed workweek. Under this arrangement, employees work the normal number of hours but complete those hours in fewer than five days. The most common variation of the compressed workweek is the so-called 4/10, in which employees work four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days. Employees often appreciate this arrangement as it provides an extra day at home, thus improving work-life balance.
  • Job-sharing. As the term implies, job-sharing means that two part-time employees share the same full-time job. Salary and benefits may be prorated on the basis of what proportion of the job each worker shares. Apart from the obvious consideration (both people need to be qualified for the job), a successful job-sharing arrangement assumes that the employees sharing the job can work together harmoniously to make the arrangement work.
  • Telecommuting. Telecommuting refers to flexible work arrangements in which employees — on a regular, predetermined basis — spend all or a portion of the week working from home or from another non-company site.
  • Permanent part-time arrangements. The hours for these alternative work arrangements usually vary from 20 to 29 hours per week, with employees sometimes given the right to decide which days they work and how long they work on those days. The key attraction of this arrangement is that the employees may be entitled to company benefits, albeit on a prorated basis.

Employees can become very invested in alternative work arrangements that they may not be able to work out with another employer. Take advantage of this approach to build employee loyalty and job satisfaction and to promote a happier work environment.

Robert Half is committed to supporting small and midsize businesses by offering continually updated research on salary and hiring trends as well as management advice and staffing and recruitment services. Our report The Demand for Skilled Talent gives insight into how employers need to approach their hiring efforts today.


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