Understanding Economic Influences

Social Factors

Social factors – our attitudes, values, ethics, and lifestyles – influence what, how, where, and when people purchase products or services. They are difficult to predict, define, and measure because they can be very subjective. They also change as people move through different life stages. People of all ages have a broader range of interests, defying traditional consumer profiles. They also experience a "poverty of time" and seek ways to gain more control over their time. Changing roles have brought more women into the workforce. This development is increasing family incomes, heightening demand for time-saving goods and services, changing family shopping patterns, and impacting individuals' ability to achieve a work-life balance. In addition, a renewed emphasis on ethical behavior within organizations at all levels of the company has managers and employees alike searching for the right approach when it comes to gender inequality, sexual harassment, and other social behaviors that impact the potential for a business's continued success.


Balancing Comes Easy at H&R Block

In an industry driven by deadlines and details, it's hard to imagine striking a balance between work and everyday life for full-time employees and seasonal staff. Fortunately, the management team at H&R Block not only believes in maintaining a strong culture, it also tries to offer flexibility to its more than 70,000 employees and seasonal workers in 12,000 retail offices worldwide.

Based in Kansas City, Missouri, and built on a culture of providing exceptional customer service, H&R Block was recently named the top U.S. business with the best work-life balance by online job search site Indeed. Analyzing more than 10 million company reviews by employees, Indeed researchers identified the top 20 firms with the best work-life balance. H&R Block headed the 2017 list, followed by mortgage lender Network Capital Funding Corporation, fast food chain In-N-Out Burger, Texas food retailer H-E-B, and health services company Kaiser Permanente, among others.

According to Paul Wolfe, Indeed's senior vice president of human resources, empathy on the part of organizations is a key factor in helping employees achieve balance. Wolfe says companies that demonstrate empathy and work diligently to provide personal time for all employees tend to take the top spots on the work-life balance list. "Comments we have seen from employee reviews for these companies indicate 'fair' and 'flexible work environments,'" he says. Surprisingly, none of the tech companies known for their generous work perks made the top 20 list in 2017.

In this 24/7 world, when no one is far from a text or tweet, finding time for both family and work can be difficult, especially in the tax services industry, which is so schedule driven for a good part of the year. Making a commitment to help workers achieve a healthy work-life balance not only helps its employees, but it also helps H&R Block retain workers in a tight labor market where individuals continue to have choices when it comes to where and for whom they want to work.

Questions for Discussion
  1. How does management's support of employee work-life balance help the company's bottom line?
  2. What can other organizations learn from H&R Block when it comes to offering employee perks that encourage personal time for workers even during the busy tax season?