Ask the CHO: What can companies do for work-life balance

Ask the CHOThis week the theme on the blog is work-life balance in honor if the National Danish Work-Life Balance Week, and Ben asks this in my first post on the topic:

If I take vacation time (even if I知 just sitting at home), I get called at least once. And before the end of it, I usually log in to check email and make sure I知 not blind-sided by too much when I return. Unfortunately, in my position I give out my cell number to everyone when I知 on-call, so its widely known.

So the question I have for everyone is this: What can companies do to help employees find that work/life balance? I know when one of my employees goes on vacation, I get a list of items that may be coming up that I値l have to handle, and then I refuse to call the employee or give out any number to reach them.

That’s a great question. What does your company do to help it’s employees achieve work-life balance? What would you like them to do?

Write a comment, I’d really like to know :o)

8 thoughts on “Ask the CHO: What can companies do for work-life balance”

  1. Individual employees can make their own difference here.

    1. Mobile (Cell) phones have an off switch – use it.

    2a. If you are using your personal bobile for work complain or refuse to give out the number – if your company requires you to have a mobile they can provide it.

    2b. If it is a company mobile then buy your own for personal use – then you can turn off the company phone in your time and not be disturbed and still recieve personal calls.

    3. Email checking is a personal choice – the only thing a company can do here is prevent you from checking it.

  2. I take after hours calls/emails/ims and have no problem with it. I also expect my employer to give me time off in the middle of the day/week/month when I need it. That’s my work-life balance.

  3. My company is very supportive regarding family. And I think we have good benefits.

    -Parental leave. This is a law by the government giving you 480 days paid parental leave per child. You get around 85% of salary. Only problem is the gov. cap or max. $3000/month. My company pays the difference so anyone gets 85% of the real salary regardless if it’s $2000 or $20 000 a month.
    -Leaving kids at day care, picking them up, doctors appointments, hospital visits, etc. is no problems. It’s not even discussed even though it’s officially during company time.
    -Family always comes first. You’ve got sick kids, do what you need to do. If you get seriously ill, the company will take care of you. This applies not so much in Sweden but more in NYC. A friend got cancer and was off work 6 months. My company paid everything, including full salary, and asked if they could do more.
    -I get a phone call every now and then from work but don’t mind at all. Being called back for work doesn’t exist but I’ve actually volunteered a few times when there was a crisis. I felt it was the least I could do considering all other benefits.
    -Lunch with the family. My family comes by work every now and then and we all have lunch in the company restaurant.
    -Workouts. I usually work out in the company gym a few times a week in the middle of the day. Gives me extra time at night with the family since I don’t need to stop by the gym.
    -The company pays my gym membership at an external gym up to a certain limit. I call this a family benefit because staying healthy is something that will benefit my family greatly.
    -In case you want to get a cleaning service at home (and don’t feel like doing it off the books), the company picks up half the cost
    -Health insurance is of course equal for everyone over here but company offers some cheap upgraded super duper option for the spouse which gives more choices in treatment.
    -The day ends at 5 pm, many times earlier, unless there is something going on. There is no ridiculous clock and we fill out our vacations ourselves.
    -Company has lots of vacation properties which can be rented ultra cheap. Can be nice occasionally

    I’m sure there are some more things I’m forgetting. I appreciate the benefits and try to chip in extra when needed but that never has any negative impact on family life. There is nothing I miss regarding the company and family policy.

    Sorry about the long list, hope some of it is useful

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  4. Mr. Pete: Indeed you’re right, cell phones have an off switch. Two reasons why I give out my personal cell:
    1. I pay for it, the company has no right to tell me who I can and cannot call.
    2. I don’t have to carry two phones.

    However, I do agree that ultimately its up to me to take control of the situation by refusing to answer. Unfortunately, I’m more annoyed by the phone ringing constantly until I answer than to ignore it. I don’t want to shut it off in case there is an emergency at home, one of the benefits to me of having that mobile. Its a trade-off I guess. As for the email, that’s a personal decision and not one that I’m suggesting work is responsible for causing.

    AdventureDad: It sounds like you work for a great company that really cares about the welfare of its employees. These are the types of things I had in mind with work-life balance. I started going to the gym recently and now I take another hour of time away from my family to do it (in hope of giving them many more years down the road). The gym I have membership to does not have a location near me so that I can stop by for lunch. If we had facilities on our corporate campus, that would be both time and money saved, and give employees a place to work out extra energy or frustration from those long meetings.

  5. Sorry if I was a bit unclear. Home for the past four years is Sweden. For the previous 15 or so it was U.S.

    Really a fantastic place for having a family.

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  6. It would be really nice to be able to screen calls on your cell phone. So you could have say a personal mode and a work mode. When you are in personal mode, anyone that calls from work (whose number you have) will be sent to voice mail.

    This would also go well with an emergency setting that would override whatever mode the phone was in, but that would be more difficult to implement, maybe an option in the voice mail would work though.

  7. Mr. Pete: I agree, those are some good choices to make!

    Greggles: That’s exactly how I’d want it too!

    Adventuredad: Us Scandinavians have it good, huh? Believe it or not, non-Nordic readers, these kinds of benefits are fairly typical in Scandinavian companies.

    Ben: Way to go on the exercise! And I agree that on-site gyms are a sound financial investment.

    Jason: Great idea. I can’t believe nobody’s implemented something like that yet!

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