How Do You Define Work-Life Balance?

I admittedly started working on this “work-life balance” blog post late at night from the floor of JFK airport. I had just missed my flight (#adultlife) and settled in for a long winter’s… email catch-up. Writing about work-life balance from the airport at midnight: irony at its finest, folks. But the fact that I was lucky enough to be flying home a full week before Christmas illustrates how great it is to have a flexible vacation policy, and how subjective the definition of work-life balance is.

Building a more balanced, flexible workplace has been top-of-mind for Bateman Group over the past few months. At our recent senior management offsite, we met in small groups to talk about ways to make Bateman Group an even better place to work. Our work-life balance task force worked together to define that nebulous idea of “work-life balance,” and where we could improve. The almost instant takeaway? The idea of work-life balance is completely subjective: for some, it means being able to sign off and not check email after 6 p.m. For others, it’s the flexibility to pick up your kids on time, schedule a dentist appointment in the middle of the day or leave at 5 p.m. for a workout class and finish up a work project from home. For me, it meant the freedom to work from home for a few days so I could make the trek from New York to California a little earlier than Christmas Eve, one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Another part of our brainstorm was examining how our approach to work-life balance stacks up against other PR agencies. Yet again, we had an aha moment. Our DNA is more startup than PR firm, and we’re typically competing for talent with the very startups whose stories we get to tell every day. We looked to our clients for inspiration on work-life balance, and found it’s often defined as a lot more than just sticking to a 9 to 5 work day:

  • Addepar, a fintech startup in Mountain View offers three months of 100% paid maternity leave and up to six weeks of 100% paid leave for any new parent to bond with his or her child. Coupled with flexible work hours, employees have the ability to work from home whenever they need to.
  • In addition to promoting a relaxed, shoe-free environment (funky socks and slippers encouraged), payroll, benefits, and worker’s compensation provider Gusto gives every employee a round-trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world on their one-year anniversary with the company and hosts a company-wide work-cation once a year, where the whole company spends a week working in a new place for a change of scenery.
  • Email marketing software company Campaign Monitor wants to make sure employees are always learning and growing their skill set, and knows people often learn the most when they step away from their desks. The company offers $10,000-$15,000 in professional development stipends: pick where you want to go to learn and grow. Campaign Monitor will cover the costs including airfare and hotel, no questions asked.

 

Armed with this inspiration, the work-life balance team talked about how we want to redefine the idea of work-life balance in 2016 to include more volunteering, exercise and vacation time. More balanced employees mean happier, healthier “lifers” at Bateman. At our recent all-hands the partners introduced several news ways Bateman Group is redefining work-life balance this year:

  • Give back (on the clock): As part of our new E3THOS program, Bateman Group has committed to donating 2 percent of profits to charity, and investing in national and local charities employees are passionate about. Taking that investment of money one step further, Bateman Group will offer flexible employee time off for volunteering — up to 40 hours per year. Want to take your writing skills to an after-school tutoring program, or want a half day to volunteer at a local charity run? Go for it.
  • Sweat it out: Getting your heart rate up is proven to reduce stress levels and make for happier, healthier people. With a new gym stipend in 2016, Bateman Group not only encourages you to leave early for spin class — they’ll pay you for it!
  • Get out of here! But come back soon: A little time out of the office (and hopefully, away from email) is an amazing, amazing thing. Starting in 2016, Batemanites will begin earning 2 more vacation days with every 2 years. If you’re a Bateman Group lifer, get ready for some serious vacation time.

 

While one half of #adultlife means being responsible for missing my own flight, I’m glad the other half means working for a company that shares my values: giving back, staying active and taking a little time for yourself. With the rollout of some of these new policies — in addition to our more “unofficial” policies that allow for a balanced work day — Bateman Group is committed to building an even healthier, happier workplace in 2016.