Think You Can’t Offer Work/Life Balance? Maybe You Can!

If you’ve conducted a few interviews, you likely have heard candidates asking for work/life balance. It’s something I hear often as well, and I even hear candidates who cite the lack of this benefit as the reason they’re leaving a job. But before you start imagining a world where employees want to work 30 hours and get paid for 40 or where every member of your executive team watches movies on the couch while they “work from home,” let’s see what this really amounts to.

What does work/life balance mean to you?

This is actually the question you’ll want to ask any candidate (or current employee) who requests it. Very often, I’ve found the responses to actually be quite tame, and I’ve found that the answer is different for everyone. Maybe they don’t want to run themselves ragged working so many extra hours. But how many hours do they consider to be acceptable? It could mean working 50 hours per week instead of 65. Sounds reasonable enough.

Maybe you’re talking to someone who needs to be available for events at their child’s school. But how often is that? It may turn out that such events are only monthly or quarterly. Also sounds reasonable enough. So here’s the point. For the most part, I’ve found candidates aren’t usually expecting anything over-the-top. Rather, they’re just trying to find ways to make work and personal lives coexist without having to cause major disruption to either.

The flip side you may not realize

There’s more good news here. The boundaries of work and personal life have gotten a bit blurrier. So yes, that means sometimes personal will affect work (as illustrated above). However, the sword cuts both ways. This means work also affects personal. That employee who leaves two hours early to attend their child’s school play will likely be doing some work from home later that night. Or maybe they’ll put in a few hours on that project over the weekend. The work/life balance is exactly that. It’s not just about taking from one to benefit the other; it really is about giving and taking. The work gets done, and the hours get put in. It just doesn’t necessarily look the way you expected.

Employee retention

Before we wrap up, I want to jump back to something I alluded to briefly at the beginning. Yes, I often hear this as something candidates request, but I hear it also as a reason employees start to look for new opportunities. With it being even tougher than usual right now to replace top performers on your team, there’s no time like the present to see if work/life balance requests are something you might be able to accommodate for current employees as well.

And now to wrap up

When you next interview someone requesting this benefit, probe a bit further to see if it might be rather easy to offer it. And if you decide to really embrace the concept, it’s a great addition to your job advertisements.

Written by Adam Lafield, Recruiter & Marketing Specialist