Sept. 16, 2007 — -- It was not your typical boardroom meeting at the Insurance Office of America headquarters outside of Orlando, Fla.
Armed with a large jar of gumballs, relationship trainer Sheryl Kurland took the lunch hour to teach employees how to nurture a healthy relationship at home. "In this emotional bank account that you're building day after day," she said, pouring in more gumballs, "these are the nice things that your spouse or significant other is doing for you."
According to Kurland, the key is building up an emotional reserve so there is ample cushion to bear the tough times with your partner.
With longer hours, high stress, and technology that keeps workers tethered to the office 24/7, more companies recognize the importance of a healthy balance between work and family. The focus: personal well-being, with perks, like visiting chaplains and meditation groups.
Fast food company Chick-Fil-A offers marital counseling to its employees at a rural retreat in Georgia. Corporate trainer Ty Yokum and his wife Jeanette have participated in two retreats over the years. The company paid for food, lodging and the conference fee.
"You take your car in for a tuneup at least once a year," said Jeanette Yokum. "You have to do that with your marriage. And Chick-Fil-A just makes it possible."
Workers at the Florida insurance company can workout at an onsite gym, get discounted day care, and now, tips for a healthy relationship.
It's the kind of help that employee Dildrinell Pratts could use. With her husband's long hours, she sometimes feels overwhelmed before the workday begins. "I carry all the burden of the kids, going to pick them up at school," said Pratts. "Going to the groceries, do the bills. So, when I sit at my desk, I feel I'm so tired, I'm so stressed out."
For CEO John Ritenour, workshops like the one Kurland runs are a logical investment. "If our people are spending most of their time crying and worried about their marriage, or worried about their relationship at home, or what's going on in their personal life, they're not productive here," he said.
"So, if I can have them walk through the door relatively happy, smiling, influencing the people around them, they're gonna be more productive."
Pratts says she got a lot out of that lunch time workshop, and she hopes to see more of them. In the meantime, she is grateful for her company's focus on family.
"They're more caring about what you're going through, and what you've been through," she said. "So, you don't find that out there too often."