Work-life benefits are those benefits that improve a worker's quality of life. These typically do not include standard benefits, like paid vacations or mandated breaks, but rather are designed to promote the worker's quality of life and reduce burnout among employees. Some common work-life benefits help employees balance commitments to work with commitments to other areas of life, such as family and education. Flexible schedules, childcare facilities, and even telecommuting options can all be considered work-life benefits. Given that different people have different needs, sometimes this term is used to talk about the amount of flexibility overall that a company is willing to provide valuable employees.
Depending on the company, work-life benefits may be explicit or simply assumed as part of the job. A company might advertise a number of work-life benefits, including childcare facilities or tuition reimbursement, but other benefits, like the ability to telecommute, might not be highlighted as clearly. In some companies, it is simply assumed that the needs of the employee outside of work will be respected by the company and that a special category of benefits need not be created. Just because a company does not explicitly claim to offer this type of benefit does not mean that these benefits do not exist.
Some of the most common work-life benefits deal with commitments to family. Childcare and nursing stations are both common ways to show respect for the employee's family commitments, but other benefits, like having a flexible schedule or allowing telecommuting, can also aid in promoting family values. For parents of older children entering college, tuition may be part of a benefits package.
Other benefits of this type are often more subtle. Casual dress days, for example, are considered a benefit in some areas and a normal state of affairs in others. Legal insurance and other types of unusual insurance can also be categorized with work-life benefits, although these are somewhat rare. Depending on the type of company in question, employees may also be provided with reduced-cost access to the products or services the company provides.
One problem with this type of benefit is that companies are not always very good at guessing what employees really want from their benefits. Moreover, when work-life benefits are extremely narrow, they may not fit the needs of all employees, giving those employees who are not in a position to take advantage of the benefits a sense that they are being left out. In some cases, this term is used to put a name to practices that already are common in the field in question, making some jobs look superficially more appealing than others.