Work-Life Balance: How to Deliver What Your Employees Want

04/02/2015 05:19 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2015

You might think employees are getting the work-life balance they need, but a new study shows that's not the case.

There was a major disconnect between employer and employee perspectives of work-life balance revealed in the results of a Workplace Trends survey. The survey, released this month, was composed of 1087 professionals and 116 HR professionals.

Sixty-seven percent of HR professionals think their employees have a balanced work life, but 45 percent of employees (35 percent of which are job seekers,) said they don't have enough time for personal activities.

As a recruiter, if you can't convince candidates you can provide them with the work-life balance they require, they'll dismiss the offer.

Here are four ways you can attract and retain loyal talent by delivering the work-life balance employees are looking for:

1. Leave work at work.

Workplace Trends' survey found 65 percent of employees and 67 percent of job seekers say their "manager expects them to be reachable outside of the office." That means when they've gone home for the day, they don't really get to leave the office. Work follows them through email (9 percent of employees) and phone (34 percent of employees.)

When employees never really feel they have time off, confined by the chains of technology, their personal time is compromised which disrupts work-life balance. To provide employees with the work-life balance they truly seek, be an advocate for leaving work at work so employees can be home when at home. Rework your culture to promote turning off the company phone after 6 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends.

2. Create a formal flexibility plan.

Nearly 7 out of 10 HR leaders use workplace flexibility programs as a recruiting and retention tool, according to Workplace Trends. If you want to offer employees the opportunity to work from home, develop a formal plan to ensure time spent working won't cross into personal time.

One in five employees surveyed by Workforce Trends spent more than 20 hours working on their personal time each week, possibly because of an unbalanced or informal flexibility plan.

Clearly define the number of hours you expect employees to work in the office, and at home. Combined, they shouldn't add up to more than 40 hours or a typical work week.

3. Offer career transition assistance.

With so much uncertainty in today's workforce, it's not surprising job candidates are more likely to choose companies that offer outplacement services. In fact, Workforce Trends reported 71 percent of job seekers said they were likely to choose a company that offers career coaching and transition services for laid-off employees. This benefit was even ranked in importance above health and wellness benefits, tuition reimbursements, and volunteer opportunities.

Unfortunately, only a mere 34 percent of surveyed organization with 500 or more employees currently offer outplacement services, according to Workforce Trends. If you want to stand out as a top employer, show candidates you offer career transition services. It will show them you care about their time, and if the job you offer proves to be an ill fit, you're going to help them take their next career step.

4. Don't use flextime to replace competitive compensation.

While location and work-life balance remain in the top three factors influencing job seekers to take a new job, compensation still holds the number one spot, voted on by 61 percent of Jobvite respondents.

Proper work-life balance initiatives are essential, but they aren't everything. Companies still need to offer competitive pay to not only stand out, but ensure employees are able to meet their financial needs. All the free time in the world does not compensate for not being able to make ends meet.

Though there is a disconnect between what employers think they're giving employees and what employees feel they have, it means opportunity. Recruiters can appeal to passive and unemployed candidates through presenting them with a career option which offers the work-life balance and personal benefits they crave.

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.