Care flex days, home office stipends — Companies are trying to balance work-life for employees

Working from home amid lockdown | Representational image | Pixabay

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Mount Pleasant: When it comes to helping employees balance work hours with relaxation, Acuity Insurance Chief Executive Officer Ben Salzmann has a unique tool at his disposal: a 65-foot Ferris wheel.

Before the pandemic struck, Salzmann would regularly fire up the amusement-park staple inside the company’s Sheboygan, Wisconsin, headquarters. About twice a month, employees were invited to bring their families in for a ride or two while drinks and kid-friendly food were served.

After-work social events like these have been hallmarks of companies looking to boost employee morale and foster a sense of community. But as we all know too well, those days are over for now—and companies interested in keeping workers content and productive face an unprecedented challenge. Even among those employers that workers say handle work-life balance best, adapting to the work-from-home world has been a struggle.

“Some of [the best companies for work-life balance] have really great paid-time off policies, flexible working schedules, good parental leave, sabbaticals and gym credits,” said Amanda Stansell, senior research analyst at workplace website Glassdoor. But as workers shifted to remote work, the spirit of in-person events and company culture needed to be recreated at home.

Acuity is one of those U.S. companies regarded as best for work-life balance, according to Glassdoor data from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. IT staffing agency Digital Prospectors, accounting software developer Sage Intacct, online survey provider SurveyMonkey, business software firm Slack Technologies and digital security trainer KnowBe4 are also among the top rated.

Some are taking very different approaches to maintaining their worker-friendly reputation, but a consistent theme has been making sure employees take time off. Whether because they can’t go on a real vacation due to infection fears or they simply fear losing their job when tens of millions of Americans are unemployed, many employees just won’t stop working at a time when stress and burnout are likely off the charts.

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