Work-Life Balance Is the Only Thing

I work for Replicon -- a Bay-Area-based company in the HR Software space. We sell HR Software to thousands of companies, which puts us in the unique position of being able to evaluate how thousands of companies manage employees - contract/full-time, or otherwise. There are obvious trends we see over time in how companies manage employees. The biggest trend we've heard from our customers over the past several years is the shift in emphasis to work-life balance.

It's easy in an up economy, especially in the Bay Area, to talk about how healthy and booming the startup ecosystem is. Companies are getting funded left and right, but there is a dark side to the startup world that not a lot of people talk about. When you join a startup, it is an all-consuming endeavor that can take years off of your life - especially when you start a company on your own. Countless articles have been written about how to mitigate stress when you work for a startup, but companies are beginning to realize that the best way to address the problem is to focus on work-life balance from day 1. Here are some policies we are seeing that companies are implementing to make things easier on employees:

More emphasis on Maternity/Paternity Leave

Companies are marketing favorable maternity/paternity leave policies as a recruitment tool. Google and Facebook in particular have led the way here by allowing for HUGE paid maternity leave minimums. At minimum, Google will pay for 22 weeks of maternity leave, which is far and away ahead of the competition. We see this trend being mirrored by many of our customers, and it's a positive one that will continue to gain traction over time.

ROWE (Results Oriented Work Environment)
We are seeing more and more companies focus less on office hours, and a shift toward ROWE. ROWE first gained attention a few years ago after a major study by Best Buy, which got covered by Slate. The thought that employees can be empowered to decide whether they'd be more productive working from home or not was a major shift in traditional management thinking. Startups have adopted this practice a lot, and we are seeing more companies emphasize results over effort. This has in turn helped a lot of companies emphasize work life balance.

Better environment IN the office
Work life balance is not just about life - it's also about the work. What we are seeing is a dramatic shift toward making the office culture sustainable and enjoyable for employees while they are there. Gusto CEO Josh Reeves recently gave a great interview to the New York Times about how he created a culture where people want to show up every day. Similarly, we are seeing dozens of our customers adopt policies to make their work environment feel "personal" and warm.

Work life balance is becoming critical not just for the employee, but for the company to succeed. We don't foresee this trend slowing down in coming years - it will be interesting to see how companies respond to this trend. The companies that do adapt to more emphasis on work life balance will continue to thrive.