This guest post is provided by Aberdeen Group’s Human Capital Management Research Analyst, Zach Lahey. Zach produces data-driven research to reveal Best-in-Class strategies for learning, talent acquisition, wellness, and other employee-centric initiatives. Connect with Zach on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

Companies consistently talk about how important their employees’ health, well-being, and general happiness are to the business. They also iterate the importance of employees’ commitment to and satisfaction with their work. However, only the most successful businesses understand that there is a major difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. Too often, under-performing firms watch powerlessly as their best and brightest leave because they didn’t feel driven by their work, or the employee-offered benefits no longer suited their needs.

Just as consumers can now compare any product with another by simply searching online, employees can compare one organization’s employee benefits and work expectations with others and determine if their needs will be met (or exceeded). This is truly an era when employee engagement matters more than ever. It’s important to retain a universally quality workforce, but proven high performers and high potentials identified by assessments (see Aberdeen’s recent Translating High Potentials into High Performance for more insight) even more engaged and satisfied. These employees should know that their professional development, personal happiness, and their work-life balance are top of mind to their superiors and the enterprise as a whole. In fact, per Aberdeen’s The Age of Employee Engagement report, Best-in-Class organizations are 31% more likely than all other companies to include work-life balance as a key component of employee engagement strategies.


A clear, consistent, and superior work-life balance, explicitly supported by company leaders, demonstrates to high-performing employees that their presence, work ethic, and skill sets are invaluable. A work-life balance initiative encourages a stronger relationship between the employer and employee, and provides the type of appreciation employees seek, especially when monetary incentives are not available or frequent enough. This is especially applicable for consumer-oriented companies that, depending on budget and personnel, might need to take other steps – like increased responsibilities, better healthcare, or management of other employees – to retain their top contributors. In fact, per the Cielo Talent Activation Index (TAI), consumer companies rate themselves as more effective than any other industry at balancing work-life strategies to empower individuals (91%). With a strong work-life balance presence in place, employees will be more engaged. Higher engagement equals better retention.

Another way to think about this is the notion of enlightened self-interest – if the organization shows they take care of top talent, the top talent will then demonstrate, through quality work and commitment, they care about the organization’s best interests. If maintaining tier-one talent is truly a top priority, be sure to demonstrate it through actions such as promotions, opportunities to work remotely, flexible work schedules, and management opportunities; not only words of encouragement or placation. To help become a company with such talent and priorities, consider joining the 65% of “Leader” companies identified in Cielo’s TAI, who consider themselves “excellent” at supporting work-life balance, as compared to 4% of “Laggard” companies. Conversely, there’s always the alternative of not putting much effort in and hoping for the best, but let’s not wait to see how that approach works out!

This philosophy applies to the other side of your talent management structure, too – attracting top talent to select your enterprise for their next career step. Without an effective value proposition, a clear work-life balance, and consistent, quality benefits, top talent won’t be very interested in working for you — even if you are the top retail store in the country, the largest car manufacturer, or even a Fortune 100 company. Top talent should not be squandered; the impact on your bottom line is tremendous – so make sure you wear that appreciation on your sleeve.