It has become a well-documented fact that at a certain point, continuing to work begins to hurt our productivity. We are not, as it turns out, endlessly productive. Our brains need rest to operate at their highest capacity—and our minds reward us when we take time off to do so.
One such article in The Atlantic cites this phenomenon, telling us that "working long hours often leads to productivity-killing distractions. Such is an instance of the saying known as Parkinson’s law, which states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Work less, and you’ll tend to work better."
So is that it? Should we just tell teammates and employees to cut it off at forty hours and just expect a better performance? Probably not. Employee engagement goes well beyond just the amount of time that somebody spends at the office—a topic we discuss often here on the Hoopla blog. Instead, it's about the quality of the hours that are spent here: how much someone believes in their work, and just as importantly, how much someone believes in their manager.
Time and time again, we've seen engagement boosted by well thought-out employee benefits. Going beyond the traditional "great snacks and beanbag chairs" fare, we've tracked down some of the most popular benefits that go back to that true focus on quality hours—not just long hours. When employees feel that their employer is investing in their life outside of the nine-to-five grind, it gives them the chance to truly take ownership of their work.
Here are some of those initiatives that can communicate to your team how you truly value their time, and in turn, can give them the space to bring their best to work every day.
Summer Fridays have become an explosive trend, especially in younger startups. With the change to warmer weather, your employees are no doubt seeing a change in the content on their social media feeds: a whole lot more beach pictures, barbecues, and general... non-work activities. While this could naturally induce some FOMO (that is, fear of missing out), and lead to resentment of their jobs, Summer Fridays present a different perspective for the change in season.
What better way to celebrate the summer sun than a shortened day at the end of every Summer week? Sure, we don't get breaks like we did in grade school, but that doesn't mean the feeling of Summer Break has to be gone entirely! Instead, by closing up shop just a few hours early every Friday, you're giving your employees a simple head start on the weekend, and a cost-effective perk that gets everyone excited for the next season of work.
It doesn't take a scientist to tell you that increased exercise generally leads to increased happiness: we look better, we feel better, and we generally have a whole lot more energy when we devote a few hours a week to that sacred sanctuary of fitness.
But for many of your employees, a gym membership can seem like an intimidating commitment—especially when they're being barraged by aggressive salespeople always trying to upsell them into personal training sessions!
Instead, why don't you partner with a local gym to get your employees hooked up with a membership that can be built into their salary? Whether your foot the bill entirely, or are able to cut a deal for employees to get a discounted rate, and dollar value off the sticker price of a gym membership is a welcome perk for employees who want to start taking better care of themselves.
Not to mention, it's certainly cheaper than building a gym into your office building!
One of the most prominent examples of this more recently-trending perk can be found at your local coffee house: Starbucks. Through their tuition reimbursement program, Starbucks employees can earn their degree at Arizona State University's online program, and the coffee titan will reimburse them at the end of each semester. The corporation estimated that 70% of its employees did not have a bachelor's degree, and saw this as an opportunity to partner in their employees' futures.
Because they don't reimburse until the end of the semester, Starbucks employees are incentivized to stay with their employer throughout the time that they earn the degree. Thus giving them a little extra motivation to bring their best to their jobs. One quote from CNN's highlight of the program certainly stands out: "For me, working at Starbucks is the opportunity for a better future," said Markelle Cullom, a three-year Starbucks employee enrolled in the program.
While not every company is going to have the same need for undergraduate education with their employees, there are still myriad continuing education and certificate degree programs that can help any employee sharpen their skills—making for an employee who believes their company is truly invested in them becoming their best long term.
Working from home has been a very comfortable transition for most Millennials, now representing the largest share of the workforce. But not every employer has been fully convinced of its appeal or benefit.
But as monster.com's Sarah White points out, Stanford professor Nick Bloom's study of employees who worked from home discovered that they "were more productive, got more done, worked longer hours, took less breaks, and used less sick time than their in-office counterparts. These employees were also happier and quit less than those who went into the office on a regular basis."
That's an incredible domino effect: not only were employees working more efficiently and productively, but it was also decreasing the employee turnover rate—a sure sign of employee engagement—which not only saves the company time on recruiting and training, but it saves them an incredible cost that comes with trying to replace a team of fully trained workers.
And with today’s technology, staying connected is as easy as checking your Slack channels or Hoopla TV.
Whatever the benefits you may choose to dole out within your organization, one thing is clear: when you invest in your employees, it gives them the chance to really engage with their work and gives them the space to truly have a balanced life. And that's when everyone wins.