Among benefits and workplace programs that promote work-life balance, Canadian employees place a high value on the opportunity to work flexibly and take time off, according to a new survey by temporary staffing firm OfficeTeam.

The survey, which polled employers and employees, found that 42 per cent of employee respondents value flexible work schedules and 21 per cent value generous vacation time or sabbaticals. Employers are trying to meet those needs, with 37 per cent offering the former and 32 per cent the latter.

“It solidified what we feel like we’ve experienced over the last 10 years,” says Koula Vasilopoulos, a district president for OfficeTeam. “Employees really have much higher expectations when it comes to perks and benefits and the whole topic of work-life balance than they really did years ago.”

Read: Employers and employees disagree on right to request flexible working

Employees are more candid about asking their employers for flexibility to meet personal appointments, whereas a decade ago such requests were more of a rarity, adds Vasilopoulos. It’s due in part to the multiple personal and professional demands that individuals face, she says. “[They’re] looking at how important work-life balance is to them and from the company perspective, organizations have realized that by supporting employees, it improves staff productivity, retention and morale.”

The survey, however, showed some discrepancies between the work-life balance benefits employers offer and the value of those benefits to employees. While 46 per cent of employer respondents offer paid parental leave, only two per cent of employees value the benefit for achieving work-life balance. And while 32 per cent of organizations offer health and wellness programs, only seven per cent of employees value it for achieving that balance.

Read: Employers offer flexible working to attract and retain talent: report

“Over the course of time, companies have become more tuned in to what employees are looking for, but we still have a way to go in order to be able to truly identify whats important to the employees,” says Vasilopoulos, adding there still may be a disconnect and that companies can never fully be on the same page as employees in all aspects of wellness benefits.

Wellness in the works. (CNW Group/OfficeTeam)

However, Vasilopoulos notes there are many ways employers can identify what’s important to their employees, including discussions, annual reviews or exit interviews. “They can ask questions specifically . . . and use the opportunities to gain a better perspective,” she says.

While employers and employees may differ slightly on the value placed on certain wellness benefits, respondents to the survey seem to be on the same page when asked about the level of organizational support. A third (34 per cent) of employer respondents said their company is very supportive of efforts to achieve work-life balance and 30 per cent of employee respondents agree.

Read: Employee productivity top objective of global well-being programs: survey

As for perks that help them stay healthy, employee respondents noted that ergonomic evaluations and equipment such as standing desks and access to fitness facilities or programs are the most valuable.

What matters in terms of perks varies by organization, notes Vasilopoulos, and it’s up to employers to identify their priorities.

Wellness in the works. (CNW Group/OfficeTeam)

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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