It’s safe to say the pandemic has dramatically impacted our work habits. Before COVID-19, 25% of Americans were working from home. When the pandemic struck, tables turned—and that figure soared to 70%.
Today, millions of employees quite literally live at work. Modern commutes are made from the bedroom to the living room, saving time previously spent commuting to and from the office, but leaving less separation between work and home. Home office spaces are shared with dogs, cats, and children, bringing joy to our days but also interruptions. Laptop screens beckon at all hours, increasing digital connection but making the typical 9-to-5 workday feel like a figment of the imagination.
These realities aren’t changing anytime soon, either—52% of American workers want to stay remote post-pandemic. Despite the challenges, there are a lot of benefits to remote work and employees are enjoying the flexibility, freedom, and possibility of increased work-life balance that comes with working from home. However, this is only possible if companies adopt practices and policies that support overall employee wellbeing.
Remote work offers a buffet of benefits, from geographic freedom to curbed transportation costs to general convenience. But it also comes with significant challenges if employees don’t feel supported by their employers in maintaining work-life balance. Working from home, 22% of employees struggle to unplug from technology—and 51% of employees worry about striking a balance between work and personal time. With the added stress of the pandemic, these issues have been growing.
These statistics have serious implications for employers. When work-life balance suffers, so does retention—in a Deloitte survey of 1,000 full-time U.S. professionals, 42% of respondents said they’ve left a job specifically because they felt burned out. Before even getting to the point of quitting, burnout can also contribute to decreased morale—something that can affect the rest of your staff.
On good days, work nourishes us: it provides a healthy serving of inspiration and satisfaction. On bad days, it does just the opposite—leaving us drained and dissatisfied.
Moving forward, employers must cultivate a healthy company culture that actively protects work-life balance—moving beyond basic HR benefits and expanding to areas like mental health, mindfulness, and food. This is especially important during times of increased stress like the pandemic. Plus, looking out for your employees’ well-being can have a positive ripple effect across your entire business—boosting morale, increasing productivity, and decreasing turnover.
Let’s dig into the details.
How work-life balance impacts company culture
Company culture is one of the most important things employees consider when looking for a job. In a Glassdoor survey, 77% of job-seekers said they consider a company’s culture before applying for a position—and 65% of employees said it’s one of their main reasons for staying at a job.
One cornerstone of a strong company culture? Healthy work-life balance.
Companies that empower employees to have a healthy work-life balance understand that work is just one part of a fulfilling life. Spending time with family and friends and pursuing other activities outside of the office doesn’t take away from what an employee is able to contribute—in fact, it adds to it by boosting overall employee satisfaction and creativity.
Many modern brands are recognizing the importance of work-life balance and taking swift action to support employees in a changed climate. Consider the home rental startup Getaway House, for instance, a company that rents out micro-cabins in the wilderness for small getaways from city life. Their business is built on promoting work-life balance—and company leaders certainly practice what they preach. On top of an already generous PTO package, employees get 12 “Getadays“ per year where they can disconnect from work and plug into what matters most. CEO Jon Staff found that letting his employees take more time off and unplug actually helped create a stronger company.
For good reason, too: A strong company culture is a powerful retention tool. 78% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an employer because of their benefits program. On the other hand, 49% of employees at any given company will seek a new job in the next 12 months due to confusion or dissatisfaction with benefits.
DoorDash for Work data shows that only 25% of businesses report a retention rate higher than 90%.
It’s time we change that.
Six ways to encourage work-life balance
To promote true work-life balance, companies must look beyond traditional benefits like health insurance and retirement plans. Though important, there are many other factors that contribute to a positive company culture and support healthy work-life balance. Here are a few ideas for boosting company culture in a remote climate:
Extend remote work stipends
At home, employees may be clocking in from their bed, sofa, or kitchen table—blurring the line between living spaces and work spaces. As a result, work-life balance can suffer. To ensure a comfortable workspace, help employees furnish their home offices with desks, chairs, monitors, computer mouses, and reliable WiFi. Consider giving employees a stipend and letting them choose the products that best support their individual needs—whether that’s a high end pair of noise-canceling headphones for a new parent, or a standing desk for the employee looking to take care of their posture.
Implement walking meetings
Studies show that just 30 minutes of outdoor time can improve employee productivity by almost 50%. Help employees get their daily dose of vitamin D and add some gentle movement into their day with regular walking meetings. Fight Zoom fatigue by following in the footsteps of companies like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, where leaders reap the mood-boosting benefits of walking meetings and take the time to step away from their desks.
Lean into learning and development
LinkedIn devotes an entire day per month to cultivating employee well-being—encouraging staff to innovate, work on inspirational projects, and invest in their career paths. Make sure to provide clear, but open, instructions for this day so that employees feel encouraged to make the most of this time. Consider offering career planning sessions or interesting talks to help employees grow their skills. By helping team members recharge and step away from the day-to-day work they do, opportunities like this can make for a happier, more productive workforce.
Offer optional team bonding events
Virtual happy hours, workout classes, and book clubs are all fun ways for employees to unwind while connecting with coworkers. But mandatory participation can be counterintuitive: adding stress for people who dread seeing another event on their calendar. If a group Pilates class isn’t someone’s cup of tea, encourage them to get moving on company time in a manner that better suits their preferences—whether that’s a bike ride, dog walk, or mid-day surfing session. Similarly, shared Slack channels can be a smart way of encouraging community without overloading employees. Staff may not want to spend an hour on video discussing different novels—but a #bookclub channel could be a low-commitment way for them to casually share thoughts with colleagues.
Establish meeting-free days
Two-thirds of all workers lose valuable time each week due to meetings. Racing against the clock, employees may wind up working overtime to finish time-sensitive projects—and burn out in the process. While Zoom calls can help people feel connected, too many meetings hinders productivity. Establish one or two days per week with no internal meetings, giving employees a chance to do deep work without interruption. It’s incredible what bundling meetings can do for mental health and wellness, giving teams the time to fully get into the flow state and work more efficiently.
Make time for employee appreciation
There’s a difference between recognition and appreciation. Recognition is celebrating employees for their work, while appreciation is about celebrating your employees as people. Make sure to do both: 40% of employees say they'd put more energy into their work if they felt their efforts were being recognized more often. Plan time regularly to celebrate your staff, in big ways and small ways. Consider writing thoughtful thank you notes, planning special days off, exploring ways to help employees find more “me-time,” and more to communicate how much the company values its people. A little “thank you” can go a long way in making employees feel valued and fulfilled.
Boost company culture with food-based benefits
Taking things like meal prep and planning off the to-do list can bring many employees peace of mind. To improve work-life balance, many companies are also adding food-based perks like expensed meals and employee gift cards to their benefits packages.
Take the California-based health startup Q Bio, a health management platform, for instance. When COVID-19 changed workplace norms, the leadership team recognized that food prep had become a major stressor for many team members—and decided to take action. “Getting DoorDash and DashPass was a no-brainer to help take care of our team,” said Clarissa Shen, Chief Operating Officer at Q Bio. “It's been one of the most beloved benefits we hear about in this new normal."
When offered in HR benefits packages, food-based perks can increase work-life balance and decrease the chance of employee burnout. In a survey of over 1,000 full-time office workers, 56% of employees said they were very or extremely happy with their current job—but among those with access to free food, that number jumped to 67%. Work benefits, such as providing meals, can be more than just “benefits”—they can be critical to employee satisfaction.
With tools like DashPass, employees can even tap into the convenience of getting other items delivered quickly through the DoorDash platform: staples like milk, diapers, and health and beauty items. This means there’s one less errand to run, and one less thing to think about—so that employees can make the most of both work and life at home.
Let’s face it: We’ve all eaten our fair share of sad desk lunches. But with DoorDash for Work, companies can give their employees access to over 340,000 restaurants, convenience stores, and grocery markets across the United States—encouraging much-needed food breaks that fuel both minds and bodies. With meals figured out for them, employees can step away from the computer and recharge: spending time with family, eating outdoors, or reading a chapter of the book they’ve been eying forever.
It’s time to serve up the rewards people are craving. Explore DoorDash for Work’s food-based benefits today.
Hungry for more tips on improving company culture? Download our ebook, Building a Remote Work Culture: How to Help Your Employees Thrive.