Work-life balance is dead. The concept that work and life areopposing forces is unraveling. And that’s a good thing forbenefits. At the same time working hours are getting longer,work-life satisfaction is increasing. What’s behind these seeminglycounterintuitive trends?

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Why ‘homing from work’ is on the rise

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Driven by a compelling need to “do it all” in the era of 24/7connectivity, today’s workforce is saying goodbye to “career andfamily” guilt and embracing work-life harmony – a seamless cohesionof personal and professional obligations and interests. In a signof the times, 93 percent of today’s professionals are now “homingfrom work” (the opposite of “working from home”), i.e. conductingpersonal business on company time.

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Modern employees want jobs that fit their socially conscious,eco-friendly, fitness-focused, app-enhanced lifestyles, and lookfor workplaces whose culture allows them to complete work and lifetasks using the same resources. Whether it’s paying bills,shopping, scheduling appointments, booking travel, running errands,or engaging in social media, employees see no reason to separateresponsibilities between work and home.

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What this means for business

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As this cultural shift toward work-life harmony becomes thenorm, businesses can’t afford to ignore homing from work.Professionals who home from work about two hours each day costcompanies an estimated $759 billion annually in wasted time andlost productivity. But stress, the modern workforce epidemic, is alsocosting American industry $300 billion a year.

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Investing in practices that produce a less stressed and moresatisfied and engaged workforce is crucial to the bottom line.Highly engaged workforces generate 29 percent more revenue, have a44 percent higher retention rate, and increase annual profits by$2,400 per employee on average.

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Businesses that recognize and respond to ever-changing employeeneeds with innovative perks and policies will be settingthemselves up for greater productivity, less turnover, anddecreased recruiting, training, and health care costs – a smartbusiness decision not just for next year, but for a new era ofcompany success.

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How employers are responding

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In an effort to attract and retain top talent, start-ups tomom-and-pop stores to giants with legendary on-site perks likeGoogle and Yahoo! are looking beyond traditional benefits andfinding innovative ways to keep employees happy, healthy,productive, and engaged.

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Today’s top perks include game rooms and fitness challenges tofoster wellness, collaboration, and creativity, concierge servicesto assist employees with personal requests large and small, timeoff for career- and life-enhancing opportunities including travel,continuing education and mental health sabbaticals, and familybenefits such as parental leave, child care and pet insurance.

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Some companies are really thinking outside the benefits box.Timberland and Patagonia offer paid leave for volunteer service,Scripps Health reimburses employees for child adoption fees, andNetflix refuses to set policies around working hours and vacationdays, which translates to flexible work weeks and unlimited timeoff.

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How ‘homing from work’ impacts benefitsselling

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Innovative employer strategy, clearly defined office policies,and specialized benefits can play a role in minimizing the negativeeffects of homing from work and maximizing employee engagement andproductivity. Encouraging work-life harmony can help employeesmanage stress and take care of multiple commitments during businesshours, allowing them to give the best of themselves at work, athome, and in life. Here’s how homing from work fits into salesstrategies for 2015:

  1. Know the numbers. Clients might not be awareof the effect homing from work is having on their business. Morethan 90 percent of employees are doing it? It’s costing companieshow much? Providing them with statistics and information aboutstress, engagement, productivity and work-life trends can help themmake better-informed benefits decisions.
  2. Offer versatile access. For perks to work,benefits programs must fit the modern employee’s lifestyle. EAP,wellness and concierge services that offer ease of access on mobileapps, tablets and other devices will see much higher utilizationrates, which in turn means businesses will see a higher ROI.Interactive modules, responsive design and 24/7 customer serviceare key differentiators to look for among benefits providers.
  3. Don’t underestimate the power of perks. Perksand benefits don’t have to break the bank; any size business canoffer attractive low-cost perks that make a big difference toemployees. Yoga classes, community service days, weekly cateredbreakfast or lunch, free car washes, and group discounts on movietickets, gym memberships, and technology products are simple,cost-effective strategies to make businesses more productive andemployees’ lives easier.

Ann D. Clark, Ph.D., is the CEO of ACI Specialty Benefits,a San Diego, California-based corporation that offers employeeassistance programs as well as wellness, student assistance,concierge and work/life services to corporations worldwide. Beforefounding the firm 31 years ago, Clark served as an associateprofessor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and VanderbiltUniversity, conducting extensive research in intellectualdisabilities and preschool intervention. Clark received her Ph.D.degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completedpostdoctoral research on alcoholism and sexuality at the Universityof New Mexico.

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Erin Krehbiel is the Chief IntegratedMarketing Officer of ACI Specialty Benefits.Krehbiel studied Management Science at the University ofCalifornia, San Diego and has since built a successful career inmanagement and sales. As a strong female business leader andinnovator, Krehbiel revolutionized ACI’s offerings by expandinginto higher education and championing social media and mobile appaccess for clients, making ACI the first to bring EAP-styleresources to student populations.

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