In today’s fast-paced corporate world, the need for work-life balance is more pronounced than ever. While the benefits of work-life balance programs are well-documented in terms of productivity, turnover, and employee well-being, there’s another significant advantage that often goes unnoticed: the potential to fuel organizational diversity.
The Underlying Problem
For many organizations, the archetype of the ideal worker remains as someone unburdened by familial responsibilities. This model, which revolves around demanding daily schedules and career trajectories, was the norm in the 1950s. However, as times have changed, so have the needs and challenges of the workforce. Women and people of color often find themselves in need of work-life balance. Yet, they are less likely to receive it or even be aware of the benefits their company offers.
The Power of Work-Life Balance
Research by Alexandra Kalev and Frank Dobbin, as featured in the Harvard Business Review, sheds light on the transformative power of work-life balance programs. Their study, which spanned over 30 years and covered more than 800 U.S. companies, revealed that when organizations offered flexible work schedules, family leave, and childcare support to all employees, there was a significant rise in the percentage of women and people of color in management roles.
In fact, these work-life benefits had a more profound impact on promoting diversity than many other widely adopted racial-equity programs. This revelation underscores the importance of treating employee work-life balance as a standard offering, not as a luxury.
Key Strategies for Organizations
To harness the full potential of employee work-life balance programs and foster a diverse and inclusive work environment, organizations would do well to focus on:
1. Flexible Work Schedules:
Empower employees by giving them control over their work hours. This flexibility can lead to enhanced job satisfaction and a harmonious work-life balance.
2. Family Leave:
Paid family leave ensures that employees can manage familial responsibilities without compromising their professional growth. This is especially crucial for women and people of color who are often saddled with the majority of care tasks in addition to paid work responsibilities.
3. Childcare Support:
By providing childcare assistance, be it through on-site facilities or subsidies for external services, organizations can alleviate a significant stressor for employees with children. With one less (major) concern, employees feel a stronger sense of support from their employer and thus a stronger sense of loyalty as well.
The Way Forward
The corporate landscape is evolving, and with it, the needs and aspirations of the workforce. By embracing work-life balance programs, companies can not only enhance the well-being of their employees but also pave the way for a more diverse and inclusive organizational culture.
Moreover, as companies strive to be more inclusive, it’s essential to recognize that DEI isn’t just about numbers. It’s about creating an environment where everyone, from all backgrounds, feels valued, heard, and empowered.
At MARS Returnship, we believe in the transformative power of diversity. Our programs are designed to support individuals, especially those who have taken career breaks, in their journey back to the professional working world outside the home. By partnering with us, organizations can tap into a pool of talented and experienced professionals who bring a unique perspective to their work and are ready to make a mark. Let’s work together to create workplaces that are not only productive but also inclusive and diverse.
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- The Surprising Benefits of Work/Life Support – Harvard Business Review
- Data & Visuals – Harvard Business Review
- From the Magazine (September–October 2022) – Harvard Business Review