When Work Works Winners Get Creative with Time-Off and Teambuilding
Most employees enjoy extra leave around the holiday season. In fact, 15 percent of organizations close their offices during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, according to the SHRM 2017 Holiday Schedules Survey. However, resourceful HR professionals, who create inventive benefits and implement effective workflex practices on a daily basis, can offer their employees more paid leave opportunities, teambuilding and other perks all year long.
Workflex is vital to an effective workplace and yields positive results for both employers and employees. Many of the 2017 When Work Works (WWW) award winners have implemented innovative policies fostering a dynamic employer-employee partnership all year, not just during the holidays. Some companies are exploring time-off periods at other times of the year.
Orchard Medical Consulting in Phoenix, AZ, closes the day after Thanksgiving to allow employees to enjoy the long weekend with family. The company reports that staff return rejuvenated and ready to tackle the final month of the year. Employees at 5AM Solutions, Inc. of Rockville, MD, are encouraged to take time-off, and the office closes to take a “clarity break,” so staff members don’t get overworked and can enjoy time with family.
Some employers provide paid time-off year round for employees to participate in volunteer work within their local communities or at their children’s schools. Alexander & Company CPAS PSC of Owensboro, KY., the Area Agency on Aging Palm Beach/Treasure Coast Inc. in West Palm Beach, FL, and Sansiveri, Kimball & Co., LLP in Providence, RI, are just a few of the WWW winners that provide these benefits.
Astellas of Northbrook, IL, provides up to five days of PTO to full-time employees to volunteer for charitable organizations of their choice. Employees are encouraged to take off Friday afternoons year-round, a time which is often used to give back to their communities.
A number of WWW winners are encouraging time-off in the summer as a good opportunity to disconnect from work, refresh and reboot. To this end, employees at the Family Support Services of North Florida in Jacksonville can flex their start and end times and compress the workweek in the summer to create more leave time. The Global Tax Network in Maple Grove, MN, offers its employees generous paid time-off and summer hours with a compressed workweek.
While time-off is a huge perk, teambuilding opportunities, communication support and a sense of belonging are identified by The National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW) as part of the seven employee-based measures that signify an effective workplace. It’s pretty common for most organizations to host a holiday event for employees to get together. However, many WWW winners encourage activities and events throughout the year fostering working relationships among employees that contribute to the success of the workplace.
For example, the employees at Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C. in Little Rock, AR, requested more opportunities to gather as a staff. Management listened, and now offers additional opportunities to socialize, such as lunches, happy hour events, in addition to the annual Christmas party for employees and their families.
The entire staff at Research Into Action, Inc. of Portland, OR, is invited to monthly casual gatherings at local restaurants and professional sporting events on a bi-annual basis. Management considers the generational diversity of their employees, and they vary the types of events to appeal to all interests. At LaSalle in Chicago, IL, the firm celebrates rebirthdays – an annual party for your hire date. Employees are treated to catered food, speeches, decorations and gifts.
Management at Clarity Voice in Southfield, MI, recognizes the importance of building trusting relationships among employees which leads to more effective organizational communication and shared knowledge. Team members attend virtual training sessions weekly, connect through online channels, and attend all employee gatherings like lunches, meetings and birthday celebrations. The CST Group in Reston, VA, offers several team building opportunities annually, including happy hours, staff dinners, luncheons, and ice cream socials. Innovative competitions, like the CST 2016 Olympic Games and holiday dress-up contest, were established to engage staff.
Employees at Alpha Warranty Services, Inc. in Riverton, UT, don’t just celebrate during the holiday season. The firm treats them and their families to several events, including renting a local theater, visiting an amusement park, attending a professional baseball game, and hosting a Halloween party. Each event features a catered meal and prizes. The company goal is to create an enjoyable work environment, and workflex benefits like these have resulted in minimal absenteeism for the firm.
The When Work Works initiative is a project of SHRM grounded in results and based on data from NSCW and the National Study of Employers. WWW promotes the creation of effective flexible workplaces; and the WWW’s annual awards recognize groundbreaking ideas and promising or successful practices in companies across America.
WRITTEN BY Beth Day
Beth Day is a Washington, DC-area freelance writer and When Work Works contributor. A former US Senate press secretary, Ms. Day was a member of Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran’s staff for over 12 years. She’s had feature articles published in Sosland’s Baking & Snack magazine and SNAC International’s Snack World magazine.