Editor’s note: This is one of 10 employers chosen for Employee Benefit News’ Benefits Leadership awards, spotlighting companies who are taking a fresh approach to employee benefits.
Work-life balance is often a buzzword at most companies, but for global chemical company BASF, it’s a mission. The company’s commitment to creating a culture that is supportive of employees at work and at home has earned industry awards as well as praise from its staff.
“When [employees] are stressed out about what’s going on with their childcare or what’s going on with their financial situation, that takes them away from being productive and engaged and happy at work,” says Mollie O’Brien, director of total rewards at BASF. “Corporations are realizing they need to keep up with this.”
That’s why the company offers robust work-life balance offerings including flexible work arrangements, comprehensive wellness, eldercare and childcare. BASF’s headquarters in Germany, for example, includes an onsite nursery, a fitness and health studio, an onsite medical consulting service and a practice for physical therapy.
“Compensation has to be competitive, but it has to be about the whole package,” O’Brien says. “Flex work is critical. It cuts across all demographics. It doesn’t matter who you are, everybody wants it. Everybody wants to use it.”
Some other innovative solutions embraced at BASF? Creative work spaces in the firm’s headquarters, which include coffee bars and designed quiet areas, and opportunities for employees to challenge themselves by taking on new roles — or new locations.
“It’s thinking in the mindset of, ‘How can we challenge this employee?’ Maybe it’s taking a finance person and putting him in HR, or taking an HR person and putting him in customer service,” O’Brien says. “If they’re a proven leader, maybe what they need is to get a totally new sense of the business by putting them in a different department, a different country, a different area. From that, they’ll have completely different eyes when they come back. Or maybe they won’t come back.”
“That’s part of work-life balance — being challenged at work. And I think it’s something we do really well,” O’Brien says.
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