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Real-life examples of simple, low-cost work/life efforts

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in Centerpiece,Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

work-life balanceStudies show that work/life programs can help improve employee engagement and productivity. But you may believe effective strategies are expensive and require a big-business budget.  

Not true. Some larger and midsize employers have created innovative, low-cost work/life practices that even small businesses can adopt. Some examples:

“Autonomy day.” Employees at G5, an Oregon-based software firm, have an annual “autonomy day” to pursue any project they want—from developing new products to researching new lunch spots.  

Encouraging volunteerism. UnitedHealthcare hosts VolunteerMatch, an online database of volunteer roles that employees can search by entering their location and type of service they’re interested in.

New experiences, new stories. A New York-based PR firm, Weber Shandwick, gives certain employees a stipend and extra paid week off to experience a new activity that enriches them professionally and personally. Participants contribute to a blog so they can share their experience with colleagues.

Advice for parents-to-be. Professional services firm KPMG hosts a “My 9 Months” website that offers information, articles and other insights for expectant parents.

Lunch and learn. First Insurance Company offers free “Balance Life” events in which experts speak on wellness, health, family, finances and other issues.   

Personalized perks. Managers at Hilcorp Energy are given leeway (and a budget) to reward employees with personalized bonuses. These have included everything from horseback riding trips to horseshoe throwing lessons.

No travel, no problem. In an industry that typically requires lots of travel, a Seattle-based consulting firm, Slalom Consulting, guarantees employees that all their clients will be local if they want that.

Family affair. Chicago-based cleaning manufacturer PortionPac has several siblings work side-by-side with parents. Workers at the 84-employee company can flex their schedules around family obligations. The company even changed the start and end times of its day shift—at employees’ request—so workers could clock out by 3:30 to get kids off the bus.  

Vegging out. During lunch breaks, employees at Southern Ohio Medical Center can plant and pick tomatoes, kale, broccoli, strawberries and more in the employees’ own garden.

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