Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Totally Integrated Employee Benefits

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Totally Integrated Employee Benefits

Article excerpt

Have you ever heard the old cliche, "Your employees are the backbone of your company?" Well, figuratively speaking, it's true! To be successful, employers must assure their employees a good quality of work life (QWL). Quality of work life, "having good supervision, good working conditions, good pay and benefits, and an interesting, challenging, and rewarding job." High quality is sought through an employee relations philosophy that encourages the use of QWL efforts, which are systematic attempts by an organization to give workers greater opportunities to affect their jobs and their contribution to the organization's overall effectiveness. That is, proactive managers and HR departments find ways to empower employees so that they draw on their "brains and wits," usually by getting the employees more involved in the decision-making process.[1] Actually, employee satisfaction and involvement can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Research has shown that, if your employees are happy and satisfied in the workplace, they will usually be more motivated, more productive, and have positive self-esteem and improved morale.

Many of today's workers are experiencing great difficulty trying to juggle both work and family responsibilities. Because so many employees are single parents or members of dual-income families, often there is no one available at home during working hours to care for the family. Therefore, a number of companies have begun to institute work and family programs as part of a "totally integrated employee benefits system" in an effort to help employees cope with these problems.[2] Examples of such programs are as follows:

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power instituted the following programs:[3]

* reduced cost for child care

* care for mildly ill children

* parenting support groups

* a "beeper-alert" program (in which employees are loaned beepers when they have an imminent family emergency)

RJR Nabisco has a time-off program in which parents can take time off to accompany their children on the first day of school or to attend parent-teacher conferences.[4] Stride Rite instituted an interesting concept referred to as an Intergenerational Center (that is a day care for children and elder dependents of employees).[5] In addition to the programs listed, many organizations now offer nontraditional work arrangements, such as telecommuting, flextime and job sharing, to help workers cope with their personal and family-related responsibilities.[6] Most successful organizations realize that, generally speaking, employee satisfaction equals success.

Employers beware! Assuming it is economically feasible, organizations of every size should make every effort to offer their employees a "totally integrated benefits system," which should encompass "family-friendly benefits." Such work and family programs often make good business sense. By helping employees balance work and family responsibilities, companies can increase their overall productivity, reduce absenteeism, and better retain valued employees. For instance, as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power found that its work and family program reduced turnover and improved recruitment, it estimates that the program yields a return of $10 for each dollar invested.[7]

It has been found that even organizations with limited resources are working hard to allow their employees the opportunity to have what is referred to as a "totally integrated benefit system." A totally integrated system permits the employee to strike a proper balance between work and family life. Needless to say, having a "totally integrated benefit system" is definitely becoming the wave of the future in both the private and public sector. In addition, some employers are finding that being a "family friendly" organization is not only the right thing to do, but it also may be critical to the organizational culture and its viability. …

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