As we enjoy this Memorial Day, I would like to take moment to talk about the benefits of promoting work-life balance for your employees.  Work cannot be everything.  People who are able to embrace both aspects of their lives – personal and professional – are much better workers.

In a large majority of families with children, both parents work, and women now hold nearly half of all jobs. A growing number of American firms are adapting to the needs and wants of this changing workforce, with not only mothers and fathers but workers of all ages and life stages taking advantage of the flexibility.

Employees no longer demand a balance between work and family, but between work and life.  Many of them either started their careers as “long-suffering commuters” or spent their childhood in daycare so that their parents could commute to their place of employment.  Technology plays a part too.  Workers today are used to getting stuff done — on their laptops, cell phones, iPods/Pads — wherever they are, whenever they want.

More and more employers are discovering that addressing these demands and loosening the traditionally rigid work schedule does pay off.  For example, Katie Sleep, President of List Innovative Solutions, has said that the retention rate at her company over the past 16 years that they have embraced a flexible work schedule is (an astonishing) 95%. And study after study shows productivity also shoots up. Approximately 85% of companies now report that they offer some form of flexible work schedules, and 1/3 allow telecommuting at least part-time.

There are all kinds of reports available that make the case for offering flexibility in your workplace, but even some of the biggest proponents state that it is not for everyone.  Some people prefer not to work from home, wanting the camaraderie and atmosphere of the office.

In addition, there are certain jobs where the worker has to be at the workplace – say a manufacturing facility that is up and running 24x7x365 – and if the worker is not there, then someone has to pick up the load….which, in itself, is not fair.

For employers in this situation there are other ways to make your workplace competitive and progressive (via competitive wages, benefits, opportunities for growth, etc.), and really that is what it is all about – becoming an employer of choice due to your progressive and desirable work environment.