photo of consultant Angie Herbers

Lifestyle benefits allowing for more flexibility in the workforce increase effectiveness and productivity of advisory firm employees. They help employees create balance in their lives that lead to more happy employees.

Not surprisingly, during the pandemic we’re seeing many firms that didn’t have lifestyle benefits available to employee’s pre-pandemic rushing to implement them now. These “perks” can include  flexible time,  paid time off for volunteering and lunches delivered to employee’s homes.

Here’s a list of the top three policies we’re seeing in our consulting work that are being implemented in firms that didn’t have them before the pandemic.

1. Sabbatical Time Off

This means is a substantial amount of paid time off that’s given to staff every few years. Typically, firms will offer employees around five weeks sabbatical after five years of employment.

This perk is important for those who work in professional services organizations, where days are often spent serving other people and in which employee burnout is a constant risk.

Encouraging employees to take the time  and to truly get away from their jobs from time to time  improves relationships, increases judgment and productivity and restores a sense of perspective to their lives.

These benefits also apply to firm owners who also need to set an example by taking periodic sabbaticals to recharge, or to just take an extended break to gain perspective.

2. Paid Time Off for Volunteer Work

The pandemic has lifted people’s desire to give back to their communities, and many firms are offering paid time off  no questions asked  for charitable work. It certainly sends the right message in the current world’s current state.

Employees who want to give back to their communities (however they define giving back) tell you something about them.

When firms encourage giving back, it also sends a message about them, not only to their employees, but to their communities, too. This is a low cost/high reward benefit that many employees probably won’t use, but they like to have available.

3. Unrestricted Vacation

You heard me right. This is the one that requires the biggest leap of trust, and consequently, the one that owners have the most trouble with.

To be clear, I’m talking about allowing each employee to decide how much paid vacation time they take and when they take it (coordinated with other employees).

Who decides how much vacation you, the firm owner(s) take? Do you spend so much time out of the office that it hurts the firm? Of course not. Then why would your employees?

In fact, a funny thing happens when you give employees the freedom to take vacations: They take less vacation time.

Why? For one thing, when you offer use-it-or-lose-it annual vacation time, it’s human nature to use it, just so you don’t lose it.

During the ongoing pandemic, one of the biggest problems we’re seeing is lack of enough vacation time. Firms are responding by saying, “You decide, how little or how much you need, no restrictions.”

In doing so, you’ll find your people will respond in appreciation, more so than more vacation.