Beyond buzzwords: How 6 local tech companies promote work-life balance

by Andreas Rekdal
May 31, 2018

Fulfilling work can make you a lot happier, but it’s not great if work becomes your be-all and end-all. Thankfully, companies are realizing that employees want to pursue passions outside of work, too. We spoke with six Chicago tech employers about how they create room for employees to thrive in their personal lives.

From flexible hours and in-office gyms to concerted efforts to keep workloads from getting too overwhelming, here’s what they’re up to.


 

signal chicago tech company
image via signal​​

Signal’s digital marketing technology helps companies recognize their customers across all the devices they use. The company trusts employees to manage their own schedules, in order to make room for pursuits outside of work. For senior finance associate Elaine Small, the ability to duck out early when needed makes it possible to audition for upcoming acting gigs.

I don't feel like I have to give up everything outside of work just to keep my job.”

How does Signal encourage work-life balance?

Between Signal's unlimited vacation policy and open office environment, it's easy to follow my acting passion. Signal treats its employees like adults — my manager trusts me to do my work well. In return, I can leave early for an audition if needed or work from home when necessary. The company encourages us to follow our passions, and allows us the flexibility necessary to do so.

 

How does this help shape your company’s culture?

I don't feel like I have to give up everything outside of work just to keep my job. I feel trusted by my superiors and peers, which is empowering. It also makes me want to do really solid work in the office, so that I can show the company that they can keep these policies in place without compromising work integrity.

 

all campus chicago tech company
image via all campus

All Campus works with colleges and universities to help them enroll and retain more online students. Heather Shulick, EVP of human resources, said the company provides ample time off throughout the year for employees to recharge and spend time with friends and family. But to senior marketing content writer Bryant Harland, an emphasis on balancing workloads makes an even bigger difference.

If someone needs help, there’s always someone willing to pitch in.”

How does All Campus encourage work-life balance?

Shulick: All Campus does an amazing job of handling work-life balance, both from a policy and a culture perspective. We have a flexible schedule policy, so if someone wants to leave earlier so they can make an appointment or take a class after work, they can come in earlier to shift their schedule. We have a pretty generous PTO schedule and a summer Fridays schedule. We also give out extra floating PTO days around the holidays so people can enjoy time off to get outdoors or spend more time with family.

 

How does this help shape your company’s culture?

Harland: A lot of the things that make All Campus a great place to work are things that pervade the culture instead of just one policy or action. For example, we do a lot for our clients, but management spreads the workload around really well. And they're always checking in to make sure they're not giving any one person more than they can handle. If someone needs help, there’s always someone willing to pitch in so they don’t get overwhelmed.

 

parkwhiz chicago tech company
image via parkwhiz

ParkWhiz connects consumers with available parking spaces in more than 120 cities across North America and Europe. The company offers employees time off as needed to pursue passions or focus on important things going on in their lives. To email marketing specialist Brian Munn, this freedom illustrates ParkWhiz’s trust that employees will get their work done.

We trust each person who works at ParkWhiz.”

How does ParkWhiz encourage work-life balance?

David Weber, regional director of market development: Work-life balance is a high priority for me, and ParkWhiz delivers. I have time to travel and follow my passions without feeling like I'm letting anyone down back at the office. Taking time for yourself and family is encouraged, and is probably one of the biggest reasons for my success within the company.

 

How does this help shape your company’s culture?

Munn: Everything that happens in your life affects everything else that happens in your life. That is why I would argue that freedom, trust and transparency are better indicators than the idea of work-life balance. ParkWhiz gets that. When you need time for something personal that is going on, ParkWhiz is flexible. We allow people to take the time they need in order to take care of what is going on in their lives. If you want to explore a passion of yours, ParkWhiz helps with that also.

We want employees to be entrepreneurial; to follow whatever spark they feel in their hearts. We’ve had employees start their own foundations, launch creative ventures, work with nonprofits, volunteer, do stand-up comedy and so much more. We do all this not because of work-life balance, but because we trust each person who works at ParkWhiz. We know that they are going to get the job done, so why not allow them the freedom to decide how they work?

 

codifyd chicago tech company
image via codifyd

Codifyd’s technology helps companies improve the customer experience on business-facing e-commerce sites. Because late nights and long weeks are sometimes hard to avoid, the company offers recovery days to make up for lost time. To VP of Business Operations Joanna Niezgoda, these policies reflect a culture of caring for each employee individually.

Every person at Codifyd matters and contributes to the success.”

How does Codifyd encourage work-life balance?

Codifyd is a work-hard, play-hard type of environment and we are a tight-knit group. We literally have family members that work here together! We expect a lot of our team, and we give them opportunities to grow their careers and accommodate what they have going on outside work in return. When someone has an interest in another role or learning a new expertise, we come up with a plan to figure out how to get them there.

We also celebrate life events with each other and provide accommodation when unexpected things happen. To create a good balance we offer flexible schedules, work from home as needed, recovery days for late nights or long weeks, unlimited sick time and generous PTO.

 

How does this help shape your company's culture?

Our culture is shaped by our people and the fact that every person at Codifyd matters and contributes to the success. Our team has a desire to figure things out. Even when we are all busy, you know you can always ask a team member for advice, to pitch in or jump in on a project. The willingness to always help each other out is a big part of our growth and success. We all truly care about our work and the people we work with.

 

spins chicago tech company
image via spins

Work-life balance initiatives help employees pursue passions outside of work, and many on the SPINS team share a passion for fitness. To accommodate employee fitness goals, the startup has an in-office gym with weekly scheduled classes. Vibrancy360 program manager Joanna Filipov said the company also offers time off for volunteering, flexible hours and opportunities to work from home.

When you can work out, meditate, practice yoga and get massages at work, it creates a fluid environment where personalities can shine.”

How does SPINS encourage work-life balance?

We take a two-pronged approach. We make sure physical health goals are easy to achieve with our in-office gym and fitness classes held three times a week in our in-office workout studio. We also offer a fitness app with recorded workout videos that can be done from home, and built-in messaging with our coaches to help guide team members in all facets of physical health and wellness.

Team members share their passions by leading demonstrations or informational talks on the topics they love. During gratitude month, one team member created a workshop style event called "Gratitude Attitude", sharing how gratitude can be beneficial in our lives. Another team member, who used to work in the chocolate industry, taught us about how chocolate is made and where it comes from. Another team member helps create volunteering events for the company that give back to the community. In addition to formal volunteering opportunities, we offer eight hours of paid time off for volunteering per year.

 

How does this help shape your company's culture?

All of our wellness offerings follow our motto, “living vibrantly.” Our culture encourages participation in these events during work hours. When you can work out, meditate, practice yoga and get massages at work, it creates a fluid environment where personalities can shine instead of stress. The absence of corporate rigidity is very apparent, and it creates happier, healthier team members. The in-office activities bring team members together, especially across departments, creating connections that generate the broader culture of SPINS.

 

stratex chicago tech company
image via stratex

A maker of software that helps companies manage every aspect of employment, StratEx knows a thing or two about what makes employees tick. To Gretchen Van Vlymen, VP of human resources, an important aspect of keeping employees happy is to understand that people have other things going on outside of work, and do as much as possible to create room for those things.

We employ a large number of people in their 20s and 30s — a formative time full of soul searching and influential life events.”

How does StratEx encourage work-life balance?

Our company’s efforts toward encouraging work-life balance are best demonstrated by our HR policies. We know our employees are drawn to certain charitable causes, so our employees earn an hour of PTO for every hour of community service they perform during the year, up to eight hours. We also offer an additional week of vacation within one year of an employee's wedding or commitment ceremony to take a honeymoon or simply relax with their new spouse or partner. 

There's also our work from home policy. Valuable employees are called to live in a different part of the country for many reasons, and we know that even a local commute can be a struggle. That’s why we invest heavily in technology that allows employees to work from home on a regular basis. This type of flexibility helps employees balance personal goals with their professional ones.

 

How does this help shape your company's culture?

Good talent is hard to find, and we employ a large number of people in their 20s and 30s — a formative time full of soul searching and influential life events. That’s why we have invested lots of resources into helping our employees follow their hearts, whether it’s through community service, major life events or relocating to a different part of the world. We show that StratEx is a family by lending a hand when these life-changing situations arise.

 

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