"Work-flex," "co-working," and "paradigm shift" might sound like human resources buzz words, but they are driving important changes for meeting planners. Programs that bring flexibility and personalized support to employees are key to the HR strategies of many top employers. HR is now focusing on their employees' overall sense of well-being, and for a simple reason - it correlates directly with an employee's ability to perform at their best. And that impacts the bottom line.
New research suggests that job satisfaction accounts for just 13 percent of an employee's sense of well-being, while satisfaction in an employee's personal life accounts for 54 percent. And it turns out that the greatest way to impact employee satisfaction is by connecting with employees through what they see as their most important life role - that of a parent. (For non-parents, it is spouse or family).
Match these findings with the reality that employees cite work/family conflict as one of the greatest causes of stress in their lives; that women are still opting out of the workforce after childbirth; and millennial men are picking employers based on the work/life integration they see - or too often don't see - among the leaders of the company, and you have a critical need for progressive work-life policies - and a work culture that backs them up.
Employers who will see the biggest gains are those that can provide a suite of work-life programs that don't just offer solutions to the "problems" of being a parent but actually celebrate parenthood and incorporate family into the work culture of the organization. It's a move away from work-life balance and towards work-life integration. And it's a commitment that employers need to see incorporated into their off-site meetings.
How does this need for work-life offerings among employees apply to associations and conference planners drawing from a broader audience? For these meeting planners, it's about making your event accessible, boosting attendance and increasing share of spend. And it's about brand. The event's brand is the most important driver of attendance and revenue. Innovative programming that meets the diverse needs of multiple generations, new mothers and working parents can help you deliver on your brand promise and keep your brand strong, relevant and evolving.
Already, over 50 percent of business travelers bring families along with them and make plans to extend their stay beyond the conference they are attending. The question is, which meetings and destinations will be best prepared to meet that demand? Consider your attendees' needs or desires to be with their children and you have a strong business case for meeting planners incorporating family-friendly policies into their programming.
Today's attendees are looking for an overall experience that goes beyond the content of the sessions or exhibits. For many, that means an experience that will engage the whole family. Remove child-care as a barrier to participation, make it easier for new/nursing mothers, and acknowledge the desire of many business travelers to bring families and extend their stay and you have a winning formula for programming that is increasingly sought after by business travelers. And that translates into revenue.
Work-life integration does not have to mean integrating children's programs into the overall meeting agenda. You can still stay true to the business or networking goals of the meeting or conference. Family-friendly services are there to ensure that everyone feels that they can participate and parents can stay focused and engaged, knowing that their children are close by and excited by activities of their own.
 Horizons Workforce Consulting Wellbeing Study, 2014
 May 2011 global study: Men & Work-Life Integration, conducted by WFD Consulting with World at Work's Alliance for Work-Life Progress, showing that among 37 work-life challenge options offered to respondents (including none) "financial stress" and " finding time to spend with family" topped the list for both men and women alike.
Bio: Lisa Bower is the President and CEO of Plus One Meetings, a company that delivers customized children's programs and support services for nursing mothers and special needs children at meetings and conventions. Lisa has 20 years' experience in marketing and communications, event management and community engagement. She previously served as Director of Marketing for Ernst & Young's Michigan and Northwest Ohio region where she was responsible for signature programs including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year and the Entrepreneurial Winning Women program. Lisa has published numerous articles, produced videos and television commercials and was a contributing editor of a book on financial strategies for women over 50. She speaks passionately on the topics of work-life integration, unconscious bias and the paradigm shift required for truly progressive family-friendly work cultures. Lisa is a founding member of the Metro Detroit Chapter of the United States National Committee for UN Women and serves on the Southeast Michigan Regional Council of Inforum - a women's business alliance. Lisa lives in Bloomfield Hills, MI with her husband, Matthew, and their four children, Benjamin, 10, Owen, 7, and three-year old twins, Lily and Noah.