Need an inexpensive benefit and an easy way to boost morale? Allow employees to partake in the services your organization provides to customers (either for free or at a reduced price).
People expect their employers to help them with the same issues their customers and clients have. In fact, some of the most valued are the ones employers can tie to their corporate missions. Examples:
- Day care teachers who work for Bright Horizons Family Solutions don’t worry about who’s watching their kids while they care for the children of clients during the day. The Watertown, Mass.-based firm lets employees’ kids attend any of its centers for half price.
- Natural-product manufacturer Tom’s of Maine promotes itself as a “values-oriented company,” so it lets employees spend 5 percent of their working hours volunteering in the community on education, environment, human-needs or arts projects.
- The Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health is putting its money where its mouth is. Employees are participating in a formal walking program, complete with fitness professionals to set the pace and pedometers to count the miles.
Some organizations even have created mission-related benefits for employees that didn’t originate with their client services.
For example, IBM and AT&T are using their tech expertise to help the parents of employees become Internet savvy and to ease their employees’ elder care concerns.
The communications giants chipped in $660,000 to bring Generations on Line—a simplified Internet program that uses photos, large print and step-by-step instructions to teach seniors how to send e-mail and surf the Web—to libraries, senior centers and nursing homes in communities where the relatives of AT&T and IBM employees live.
Other organizations have expanded their community outreach programs to include their own employees. Two examples:
- Verizon Wireless, which runs a domestic-violence assistance program for the public, has expanded the benefit to its own employees. The firm arranges for temporary housing and counseling for victimized employees.
- Duke University Medical Center’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development has studied the needs of the geriatric community for 50 years. Now the center’s Family Support Program opens its doors year-round with an elder care program for the university’s 25,000 employees.
Bottom line: If your organization provides services to clients or to the community that could also benefit your employees, offer them to your staff free or at reduced cost. The gesture can boost morale and could help employees with their work/life issues.