Two weeks ago, our Grand Rapids office was honored with a Huntington Pillar Award from the Women’s Resource Center. Each year, the organization honors West Michigan employers that empower women in their workforce with progressive policies and practices. I’m happy to report that our firm was recognized for its focus on work-life balance and “intentionally creating policies and a culture that keeps staff happy.”
This recognition has led me to think a lot lately about balance. Balance has long been an important part of the Plante & Moran culture, going back to the days of co-founder Frank Moran. Frank was often fond of saying, “The whole person comes to work.” Frank viewed staff members not only in their professional roles as administrative assistants, CPAs, or consultants but as people who have children, spouses, parents, and personal and community commitments that extend beyond work. He understood that work may occasionally take a backseat to one’s personal life. He often referred to balancing the two as “life on the tightrope”; the danger of falling off the tightrope comes when life is out of balance, when we’re focusing too much on either our work or our personal life, causing the other to suffer.
Over the years, Plante & Moran has developed a number of programs to keep staff safely on the tightrope—things like free, on-site daycare on Saturdays during tax season. Expanded part-time work opportunities. A non-traditional careers policy that guarantees that staff members working a reduced or non-traditional will still be on track for promotions and partnerships. Mentoring programs to better position female staff for partnership.
We’ve worked very hard to create a culture that emphasizes the importance of work-life balance for all staff. But as Plante & Moran Partner Kelly Springer says in the video highlighting the Pillar award, you can have the best work-life policies in the world, yet without great staff to ensure they’re lived on a daily basis, the firm would not be as successful and certainly wouldn’t be receiving this recognition from the Women’s Resource Center.
What about you? What kind of importance does your company place on work-life policies? How important is work-life balance to you?