Work-life effectiveness: It’s more achievable than you think

Having a successful and fulfilling job and life outside of work can present challenges. While the debate over achievable “work/life balance” and “having it all” wages on, one thing is for sure. Some companies are becoming quite adept at creating policies, programs and services that go a long way to help their employees find the right mix of personal and professional satisfaction.

Perhaps, no one knows the stress of managing career and personal responsibilities better than working parents. In fact, 36 percent of all working moms are the primary breadwinners for their family according to a recent Prudential Financial 2014-2015 study “Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women.”

”Employers are realizing the importance of providing supportive work environments for parents not only as a way to attract and retain top talent, but as a driver of engagement and performance,” says Maureen Corcoran, vice president of Health Life & Inclusion at Prudential. “And workers reap the benefits, too – particularly women who still remain the majority of primary caregivers in our society.”  

Over the years, a number of programs that Prudential offers have been cited for excellence by Working Mother magazine. These include Prudential’s child care and adult care benefits, flexible work arrangements, career development opportunities, and benefits for new mothers and fathers, such as up to 26 guaranteed weeks off after the birth or adoption of the child (two of which are fully paid).

Finding a good personal mix of work and life effectiveness is a gender and age neutral challenge and an individual’s needs change over time as they go through different career and life stages. If you are looking for a new job or would like to start a conversation with your current employer, consider these six areas that contribute to getting it right:

1. Flexibility
The ability to have some control over your work schedule to accommodate personal obligations can reduce stress and boost productivity. Ask about flexible start and end times, the ability to work from home or to phase back into work after having children. Does your company allow compressed schedules or part-time work when life demands increase?

2. Paid time off
PTO is helpful because it gives employees the opportunity to take vacations, manage family and household needs and take sick days without financial worries. Oftentimes, PTO can be negotiated at the start of a job.

3. Unpaid time off
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid time off to employees who have a qualifying life event. Company size, employee tenure and hours worked apply. Some employers offer more time for events like the birth or adoption of a child or caring for an elderly parent.

4. Health and wellness
Striking the right balance between work and life can positively impact physical, emotional, financial, spiritual and social wellbeing. Along with health insurance, benefits like personal wellness workshops, on site fitness and clinic services, free life, health and budget coaching demonstrate a company’s commitment to its employees’ overall well-being.

5. Personal development
If you want to grow your career beyond on-the-job training and stay marketable, does your employer support it? Ask about company-paid training programs, tuition reimbursement, options to participate in industry groups and mentoring. Professional development is primarily your responsibility, but many companies offer great ways to assist you.

6. Caregiver perks
The demands of working caregivers (of children and aging loved ones) are many. Programs that benefit working caregivers include child and adult care services, lactation benefits for new moms, work schedule flexibility, resource and referral services and counseling services for employees’ family members.

“Companies that have a whole-person perspective on their employees, recognizing and addressing the needs of their workforce inside and outside of the office are smart,” says Corcoran. “The investment they make in this work not only pays off for employees but for their customers and shareholders.”

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