Ping pong tables in the breakroom. Nap rooms. Specialty chefs. Yoga classes. Stand up desks. Flex scheduling.
The list of ‘amenities’ that companies offer their employees goes on and on, from the medical (coverage for gender reassignment surgery) to the ordinary (free gym memberships). It appears companies are tripping over themselves in an effort to outshine their competitors, and with good reason.
When Google instituted its ‘Chief Happiness Officer’ position in the early 2000s, hundreds of companies followed suit, prioritizing happiness for their employees. As a result, employee happiness has become a focal point of human resource departments.
What happens when the clock strikes 5:00? Should corporations be concerned about their employees’ happiness outside of work? Some experts agree that companies should be empathetic to the happiness of their staff even when they’re not at work, while others vehemently oppose. What does each side argue?
The “Absolutely” Crowd
A recent study by JLL Corporate Solutions revealed that 87% of people surveyed want someone dedicated to employee happiness and wellbeing at work. There’s merit for this idea. Happy employees are more likely to be engaged at work.
Engaged employees are more productive, take fewer sick days and are less likely to look for a new job. While on-site perks such as walking trails and free snacks are helpful, employers who wish to keep their employees happy while at work will work to help keep them happy while away from work. More succinctly, employers should prioritize their employees’ work-life balance.
Employees do not leave their personal lives at the office door. Workplace policies that support employee life outside of the office can greatly improve what happens inside the office by alleviating the things that cause stress. Flex scheduling can accommodate working parent struggles. Providing an option to work from home as needed allows employees who have health issues to work as they are able.
The “Absolutely Not” Crowd
Very few employers would dismiss their employees’ life outside of work as irrelevant. A public outcry would erupt if employers were blatant enough to state they simply did not care about what happened to their employees away from the office. However, a company exists to make a profit.
Without it, employers are forced to lay off employees, cut services or shut down. While it is nice to provide perks that can occasionally help employees’ lives outside of work, the main priority of a company should be business.
Where is the line between what cultivates a thriving workplace and what is too far? Only you can decide. While some companies seem to go to the extreme in providing for their employees’ happiness at work, they seem to ignore the fact that their company is made up of people who have lives outside the office.
Other companies pay lip service to being concerned about their employees, while their policies indicate they only care about their bottom line.
As in all things, there must be a balance. Companies can care about their employees’ happiness – both in and out of the office – without going out of business. In the end, it is left to each business leader to determine what is appropriate for their own company.
Do your employees need brand new flat screen TVs at home to be happy? Would those TVs help them to be more productive at work? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. Does your company have a Chief Happiness Officer? What efforts have you taken to improve employee happiness?
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea®. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.