Helping Firms by Helping Employees? Work-Life Balance in America

December 2015

Helping Firms by Helping Employees

There is a long history of debate within business, policy, and economic literature regarding whether firms can improve their performance by treating their employees well. One view is that policies to improve employees’ work-life balance—such as working from home, part-time working, child care support, and generous maternity leave—are both expensive and often counterproductive for firms. An alternative view is that improving employees’ work-life balance may simultaneously raise firms’ profits. However, how representative are these two views, and where does the typical
American firm lie along the spectrum of work-life-balance policies?

To address these questions, we used a double-blind survey originally developed by McKinsey & Company in order to collect international management and work-life-balance survey data from U.S., U.K., French, and German firms.

Client: Center for American Progress

Authors: Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun, Daniela Scur & John Van Reenen

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