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9 Real Ways Work-Life Balance Has Improved in America

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It’s well known that Americans spend an excessive amount of time at their jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, employed people worked an average of 7.6 hours a day in addition to up to 3 hours working at home. However, with new programs like flextime, longer parental leave, and company email restrictions on weekends, a new wave of corporate-sponsored work-life balance strategies are being ushered in.

Despite America’s seeming obsession with the work grind, here are 9 reasons why the work life balance is getting better in America!

1. Telecommuting

Telecommuting to work can allow employees to cut transport time, work in a more relaxing environment, spend more time with family, and more. According to Gallup, over the past 20 years, the rate of working Americans who telecommute has risen from 9 percent to 37 percent. Their survey also found that the majority of Americans believe that employees who telecommute and employees who work in an office are equally productive.

[Related: 9 Companies as Cool as Google & Hiring Now!]

2. It’s now easier than ever to find information on a company’s culture

Glassdoor allows you read reviews from current and former employees to gain insight to a company’s real work-life balance. Before, it would have been impossible to gather so many candid reviews of company culture, but now, information on the benefits, perks, working hours and expectations can be found with the click of a button. In fact according to a Glassdoor survey, 78% of job seekers say that ratings and reviews from those on the inside are influential when deciding where to work.

3. Companies like Amazon are experimenting with shorter work weeks

This summer, Amazon announced that they will pilot a program where certain employees can opt for a 30-hour workweek at 75% pay. This initiative is a part of a growing wave of companies that are experimenting with non-traditional work hours. According to Amazon, their decision to create the program was spurred by the realization that “the traditional full-time schedule may not be a ‘one size fits all’ model.”

[Related: How to Talk to Your Manager About Your Work-Life Balance]

4. More inclusive parental leave packages

More and more companies are starting to offer more accommodating childcare leave packages, including paternity leave and normalized benefit packages. For example, Deloitte just announced that they will be offering U.S. employees 16 weeks of paid family leave. And these benefits work–when Google bumped up their maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks, the rate at which new mothers left fell by a half.

5. Flexible time off

Flexible work times are part of a growing recognition that some employees are more productive outside of the 9 to 5 structure. Intel, for example, offers benefits like flextime (where a set number of hours are worked within an agreed upon start and finish time), part-time and job share positions, and compressed work weeks (where employees work less days, but longer hours).  Flexible work hours can give people more time to spend with their families, as well as the opportunity to a cater a schedule towards what they know their most productive work habits are.

[Related: 17 Companies with Great Work-Life Balance & Hiring Now!]

6. The rise of “returnships”

Returnships are internships for people who have taken an extended leave of absence from the workforce to enter back into the professional world. These programs are particularly targeted at people who took leave in order to raise children or become caregivers. These programs give less of a stigma to taking time off, and display to all employees that they will be welcomed back if they need to take time away.

7. Company daycare services

Having a daycare at work can help employees spend more time with their children. Also, the promise of company daycare can let young couples, especially young women, focus more on their personal health and career. Companies like Patagonia are at the forefront of onsite daycares.“Even in times of economic struggle the program was never cut, because [our founders] believed in providing a supportive work environment for working families,” Rose Marcario, the CEO of Patagonia, has written.

[Related: How to Talk to Your Manager About Your Work-Life Balance]

8. Restricting company email access

Some companies are experimenting with locking employees out of the company email server for stretches of time, particularly on weekends. Since the average employee receives 90 emails a day, measures like this can reduce the stress created by a constant deluge of emails. “Most full-time employees consider the option to use mobile technology away from work an advantage rather than a hindrance, probably because of the flexibility it invites,” contends Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace management and well-being for Gallup. “With the help of great managers, engaged employees leverage this flexibility without feeling extra stress. And while organizations can set blanket policies that assume indifference among employees, they might be better off engaging them first.

9. Companies with a great work-life balance are hiring now

Check out Glassdoor’s list of 17 companies with great work-life balance that are hiring now. You, too, could be part of the shift towards a better balance between your work and home life!

DISCOVER: Search For Jobs In your Area With Awesome Work-Life Balance