Work/Life Benefits Emerge as Retention Tool

March 28, 2001 ( - A growing number of employers rely on work/life benefits to retain rather than recruit employees, according to a new study.

Nearly three quarters of survey respondents said retention was their primary reason for implementing the programs, while employee morale was ranked second. 

Recruitment was a distant third in the Survey of Work/Life Initiatives 2000, jointly sponsored and conducted by Bright Horizons Family Solutions and William M. Mercer.

The most prevalent work/life benefits currently offered are:

  • 90% – Casual dress (up from 84% in 1998)
  • 90% –  Tuition reimbursement (up from 85%)
  • 86% – Unpaid leaves of absence unrelated to the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • 85% – Health care spending accounts (up from 74%)
  • 84% – Employee assistance programs (up from 77%)
  • 82% – Dependent care spending accounts (unchanged).

Baby “Boom”

Nearly 20% of the surveyed employers sponsor at least one on-site, near-site, or consortium childcare center, with back-up care to deal with emergency or holiday needs.

In addition, employers are considering adding additional benefits, including:

  • 29% – long-term care insurance
  • 23% – guidelines for flexible work arrangements
  • 20% – job sharing
  • 20% – legal insurance
  • 19% – telecommuting


The study suggests that to be effective, work/life initiatives must be aligned with the organization’s business needs and strategies. Employers most commonly use the following approaches:

  • 55% consider work/life as part of an overall employer-of-choice strategy
  • 38% incorporate work/life into relocation efforts
  • 35% include work/life in organizational climate assessments

The Survey of Work/Life Initiatives 2000 was distributed to a random sample of 5,000 companies on the Dun & Bradstreet roster. Over 450 organizations responded.