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How to Communicate Work-Life Balance with Stories

Reading Time: 6 minutes

In this article we’ll show how employee stories can be used to communicate work-life balance and highlight paid time off.

Employee stories are the best way to communicate organizational culture, both internally and externally. Specifically, they are very powerful when used to promote a policy, benefit, or program. Employee stories bring these policies and benefits to life by grounding them in real employee experiences. 

When it comes to these policies and benefits, one of the more powerful employee story topics is work-life balance and paid time off (PTO). As a culture communicator, focusing on this topic will have positive ripple effects throughout your organization. 

For one, know that this is an important topic to both internal and external audiences. Candidates need to know what healthy work life balance really means at an organization as they evaluate their potential workplace. And, employees are often getting mixed messages from their managers and peers around what the real expectations for paid time off and work-life balance are. 

Even if you have the right policies in place, you need a strong communications strategy to give talent the insights they need.

In this article we’ll show how employee stories can be used to communicate work-life balance and highlight paid time off. And, why it’s so important to build a communications strategy around these elements of your culture. 

The Complexity of PTO for employees

Sometimes taking paid time off in America is complicated. 

A study published this March from Pew Research Center from a survey of 5,902 U.S. workers revealed:

  • Nearly half of workers who have paid time off say they typically take less time off than their employer offers.
  • About half of those who aren’t taking all their vacation say they don’t feel they need to take more time off (52%) or worry they will fall behind if they took more time off (49%).
  • About 43% say they feel badly about their co-workers taking on their work, while other non-vacationers are concerned that taking more time off will hurt their chances to advance (19%), they might risk losing their job (16%) or they think leadership discourages them from taking time off (12%).

If this sounds (or feels!) familiar,  you could use employee stories to allay these concerns. For example, Ethan from Capital One took advantage of the company’s paid family leave policy when they had to travel unexpectedly to meet and adopt their daughter from another state. They shared a story about how their coworkers and leadership supported them, and also covered for them. You can find Ethan’s story around the 1:24 mark. 

By sharing Ethan’s story with the masses, the video shows talent that associates are encouraged to use their paid time off and family leave benefits. And, candidates and employees alike can see leadership’s support of associates’ work-life balance. And, that employees 

Model it: Leadership must take paid leave or time off and talk about it loudly

No matter how much paid leave or paid time off you have, if you don’t see leadership taking advantage personally, it’s not normalized culturally.  

We love this story from Trane Technologies, to promote their mental health program. Ann, a senior leader, shares a personal story about a difficult time in her life where she decided to use Trane’s mental health program.

Released internally, this video sends a message from the top down that it’s OK to need mental health support. And, that the company will support you at every step of the way.

Be clear about expectations

Stories from coworkers and leaders that show exactly how time off is taken are important to share, too. 

This is a fun one: The Motley Fool has a policy called Fool’s Errand. Once a month, they have a drawing. If your name is drawn, you have to take two weeks off starting immediately. Those whose name were drawn share their experiences, and leaders talk about the meaning behind the policy:

Both candidates and employees need to understand what your leave policies look like in practice, including paid time off. Using employee stories and experiences to communicate and promote your organization’s leave policies and work/life culture is a best practice. 

What employee stories will you share about PTO and work-life balance?

Work-life balance and PTO are two incredibly important aspects of your culture to candidates and employees alike. By creating a library of employee stories that bring these culture concepts to life, you give talent the insight they need to make an informed decision. 

What work-life balance stories will you tell?