Working parents at Morgan Stanley had reason to cheer recently, when the banking giant launched a new workplace nursery scheme. In a boost to mums and dads juggling it all, the company said the new scheme was a push for a better work-life balance for its staff. And it’s a push in the right direction. For years, big businesses and hard graft have gone hand in hand- more Wolf of Wall Street than Baby Boom. Employee benefits and finding a work-life balance took something of a back seat. After all, working in a fast-paced, pressured office can make it tough to put in place perks that actually stick. How can a business have an early finish on a Friday if there’s a chance a crisis might come in at 4pm But the tide is changing. As younger generations come into the workplace, big companies have had to figure out how to strike that balance. Benefits are no longer a nice little add-on, they’re key for employees’ health, productivity and overall happiness. What’s more, they’ve come to be expected. Deloitte’s Millennial Survey found 16.8% of millennials look at career opportunities by good work-life balance, while 11% want flexibility. The bottom line is that with such a focus on mental health and wellbeing, big businesses couldn’t afford to carry on like they were. To have a shot at keeping highly skilled staff in their seats, companies have had to move with the times and up their game. Benefits that hit the right note With almost a third of our lives spent at work, it’s about giving benefits that matter. As many as 70% of employees say benefits motivate them and keep them sticking around. But to really work their magic, megacorps have had to offer benefits that meet the needs of their workforce and fit with the lifestyle of the business. Mental health and wellbeing is hot on the agenda for businesses right now and rightly so. A whopping 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety in 2016/17. The fast-paced lifestyle of finance and big business hasn’t shown any signs of letting up, so what’s important is that companies make sure their staff are well cared for. A golden example is Unilever. Its global health programme not only offers mental health training for managers, but includes regular employee workshops on sleep, mindfulness and exercise. The thinking behind it? High-performing companies need resilient, healthy employees. And with that, it hit the nail on the head. Whether it’s yoga, mindfulness training or just making sure that everyone takes their full lunch break, the focus has got to be on wellbeing. On top of just being the right thing to do, there’s a nice business incentive for the big guns to step up too. Last year’s government report Thriving at Work found sickness absence, staff turnover and presenteeism cost businesses between £33bn and £42bn a year. Workplace nurseries are great, but businesses wanting to stay ahead of the curve have to show parents other support as well. From flexi-time and remote working to childcare vouchers, it’s about giving staff flexibility and choice. In a nutshell, employees who feel cared for and valued will be happier, more motivated and more likely to stick around. Getting the balance right But as with most things in life, it’s all about getting the balance right. There’s no doubt big companies need to take good care of their staff, but they also need to keep functioning too. In a fast-paced environment, the thought of putting together a benefits strategy that works for all their staff might seem like a big ask. But that’s why businesses need to give some proper thought to what benefits will work for them. Benefits need to work alongside what the actual business stands for and the pressure staff are under. Nursery is a great example for Morgan Stanley, as it takes the heat off parents rushing to drop off or collect children. The key is to have a structure in place. A system that supports all staff, whether that’s giving working parents flexi-time or allowing staff to take a break when they need it, without expecting them to still be ‘online.’ But for that to really work, it needs buy-in from the top brass. Managers should lead by example and show they make the most of workplace benefits while still getting the job done. It will set the culture for the whole workplace and get junior staff interested. Big businesses know it’s not all about the pay-cheque these days. It’s the companies that have a reputation for looking after their staff and encouraging a work-life balance that have become the most attractive. A win-win all round.  Reboot Online survey 2017  www.hse.gov.uk/statistics Post navigation Employee engagement case study: Specsavers Can office parties boost productivity?