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Five Ways to Flex so Employees Love their Jobs with You

Unless the name of your company happens to be one that rhymes with “moogle,” a general consensus that employees absolutely love working for you might not exist.

Each year, Fortune ranks the 100 Best Companies to Work For, and there’s little doubting these places are the ones most people want signing their paychecks. (Of course, it should be noted we think this place is quite the enjoyable place of employment as well).

If your company didn’t make the cut, don’t feel left out, or that the recognition is impossible to achieve. Even though you may not have thousands of employees or enough capital to purchase something like, oh, say, YouTube for a gazillion dollars, your company can still share the same status of other “best”-labeled employers.

Despite varying sizes and budgets, corporations big and small across the country have made their workplaces highly desirable with a myriad of unique benefits and have one overall attribute in common: putting their people first. This is accomplished by catering to the lifestyles, health, compensation, communities and career paths of employees. A business that offers these foundations will be one that ultimately builds itself into one of those best places like Google (growing into a trillion-dollar business is not guaranteed, though). We’ll examine each aspect here, but for starters, let’s look at the lifestyle foundation.

Back in the day, working a rigid nine-to-five schedule was the norm. Even the tech sector of the 1990′s had its share of long grinds…

But in the workplace today where many Generation X and Yers are decision-makers, significant emphasis is placed on employees building their identities and lifestyles into their careers. The best and brightest talents expect employers to cater to these aspects through flexibility, enabling them to make balancing life in and out of the office a manageable process.

One of the primary foundations for building the best place to work is this elasticity. Not only does it make employees happy, but for the employer, it translates into greater employee loyalty and productivity. So try incorporating these five tips to varying degrees for making your corporation one of the best, most flexible places to work:

Flex Scheduling Muscle
With fuel prices killing wallets, environmental emission concerns, gridlocked commutes stretching farther and farther away, and available technology that allows for round-the-clock accessibility, there’s little reason why telecommuting and flex schedules should not be a viable option for any company (so long as it makes sense for each job position). Technology stalwart Sun Microsystems is a huge proponent of telecommuting, allowing individuals to work from home while also establishing satellite offices that provide full access to all of Sun’s system files when face-time is needed. The Container Store provides a family-friendly shift from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., of which 10 percent of employees take advantage to ease the juggling act of school drop-offs and pick-ups.

Express Yourself
Gone are the days of heavily-starched shirts, power ties, bland work spaces and rigid corporate edicts at many companies considered to be the best places to work. While certain guidelines should be in place, casual environments which allow for individuals to stamp their personality in the ways they dress and decorate work stations can stimulate creativity and a sense of belonging. Some corporations, such as Nestle Purina, even allow the flexibility of employees bringing pets to the office.

Did Someone Say Sabbatical?
Sometimes vacation is just not enough. One of the common features shared by these best places is the offering of sabbaticals. These extended absences are often utilized for achieving personal goals, taking a college course, long periods of travel or just simply being a beach bum a break from the grind to clear one’s mind (sounds nice, doesn’t it?). To an employer, it means getting an employee who will be refreshed and ready for new challenges upon returning, as well as the opportunity for cross-training other employees on duties that need to be temporarily filled. Most are unpaid, but biotech giant Genentech offers a six-week paid sabbatical that is available every six years of service.

Kiddie Care
For some, daycare is an absolute necessity. But the cost and challenges of drop-offs and pick-ups during inflexible timeframes can be both complicated and frustrating. Because some corporations are aware of these concerns, on-site daycare has become a growing trend, even allowing parents access to check in on their child during the day. Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock offers a budget-conscious program for children six weeks to five years old, while S.C. Johnson & Son provides discounts at its center for families whose salaries fall below a specific level.

All in the Family
Family-friendly organizations are highly attractive–especially in tech sectors where the majority of employees fall in the typical family-starting age range. Whether it’s bringing children to work-themed days or significant maternity leave, employees will be highly reluctant to leave a job that allows them to prioritize being a parent. Cox Communications has an adoption assistance program that includes up to $3K in costs and a leave of absence, while Boston Consulting Group offers three months’ paid maternity leave. “But what about Dad?” you may ask (at least I’m asking)… paternity leave is a benefit that has started growing in popularity.

These are just a few examples. How has your company brought balance to business? Have you had any issues with implementing these suggestions?

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