In our “Re: Connection” blog series, we’re revisiting articles from years past to see what changes have occurred since the article’s first publication. The topic of creating a good work-life balance in the office was featured a few years ago. We asked two Louisiana business owners to offer their opinions and share ideas on how they provide a good environment for employees.
If you’re a jobseeker on the hunt for a new place to work, you can use these best practice approaches and unique ideas to gauge the work culture of a prospective employer and their approach to work-life balance.
Universal Data Incorporated (UDI) provides IT and cybersecurity services to companies across the Gulf Coast region and employs approximately 30 people. The majority of UDI employees make up a mobile workforce who are primarily interacting with customers throughout the day. “Since most of my employees are in front of our customers, I can’t afford to have someone who is not happy with their job,” said Jim Perrier, Founder/CEO. “They understand from the day they are hired that we are a service industry offering striving to be our customers ‘Best Employee.’” Due to our support of cybersecurity and IT infrastructures, they may be dealing with customers who are stressed. The company’s system may be down and they are losing business the longer they’re offline. We need to be mindful of this challenge and provide the best service we can to address their organization’s needs.”
In addition to their focus on customer service, Perrier said that sometimes his employees may have to work odd hours or overtime, so to provide balance, he offers them flexible hours as long as they continue to perform their job. This flex time includes bonus time off or the opportunity to work from home a couple of times each week if they so choose.
“In addition, we try to give our team members as much time as they need if something arises,” said Perrier. “One of our employees had just started with us and her husband contracted cancer, and we gave her four months to work from home. She continued doing her job and just regularly checked in with us. Needless to say, she was very much appreciative.”
In addition to flex time and time off, UDI provides a solid benefits package including a Simple IRA with company matching, as well as team-building activities such as trivia games, a family picnic each year, laser tag events during the workday and a Christmas party during work hours in a nice downtown restaurant.
MESH is a Baton Rouge-based marketing and advertising agency with approximately 30 staff members, a few of whom live and work in other cities. In a creative industry with a history of long hours burning the midnight oil, CEO & Chief Creative Director Taylor Bennett relies on living the company mission and a focus on organization to achieve work-life balance for his employees.
“Work-life balance at MESH starts with our mission: Serve. Be authentic. Go beyond,” said Bennett. “We work in teams to not only serve the client, but also each other. Part of working as a team is to make sure you’re doing your part so the team can do good work without staying until midnight. It starts with being organized and having a good process in place so you’re working efficiently and not having to constantly make changes and corrections. Focusing on the process and how the whole agency functions is the cornerstone of a good work culture and leads to a healthy work-life balance.”
Bennett also lets employees choose from two sets of flex hours from 8:00 – 5:00 or 8:30 – 5:30, which allows for people to get kids to and from school and participate in after-school activities. MESH closes at 3:00 and 3:30 on Fridays to let people get an earlier start on their weekend. In addition, after a year, team leaders can allow employees the ability to work remotely. Bennett noted that the company’s senior writer married someone from New Orleans and works from there three days a week and comes into the office the other two days. Bennett cautions that with these kinds of arrangements, management needs to make sure there are clear expectations in place so employees know the rules and continue to live the company’s mission.
Employee rewards and recognition is also important. “We are often really busy in the first quarter producing creative campaigns for the year,” said Bennett. “Recognizing when people are going above and beyond is important. We also do things like giving them a day or half-day off when they are putting in the extra mile.”
In addition to flexibility and rewards, MESH has multiple events such as crawfish boils and an annual Christmas party, both of which include families (even pets) to help everyone get to know the people at home who support the team members. MESH also helps to brighten the workday with random acts of kindness. Twice a month, two people team up and do something special for the agency such as serving gourmet coffee, conducting a beer tasting, or throwing a murder mystery party.
Bennet has noticed a shift over the last decade toward a better work-life balance unlike his early years in the business where agencies worked 70-plus hours and weekends.
“Personally for me, it’s made a big difference,” he said. “I enjoy getting home for dinner with my family and attending baseball games or recitals. More quality time away from the office helps me to perform better when I’m at work and I know my team feels the same way.”
Looking for a job that provides great work-life balance? Whether you’re looking for a career in tech, manufacturing, engineering or another industry, check out Louisiana Job Connection today to find a job that’s tailored for your skills and experience.