Businesses support work-life balance

Man with his son on his knee looking at laptop
  • As many as three-quarters of people working long hours say they would prefer to work less even if it means taking a pay cut
  • Organisations that value the ‘people’ aspect of business and who offer flexible work-life options are more competitive in attracting and retaining the best talent
  • Businesses can incorporate a work-life balance policy into their core value statements and planning.

We all strive for balance in our lives. However, getting the right mix of work and everything else that life entails does not come without effort, whether we are trying to get our own lives in order, or we are setting policy for an organisation.

According to an Australian Work and Life Index report, more than a fifth of Australian employees work 48 hours or more each week, and 60 percent don’t take their holiday leave regularly.

It appears some full-time workers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their situation and as many as three-quarters of people who work such hours say they would prefer to work less, even if it means taking a pay cut.

So where is this discontent coming from, and more importantly for managers, where is it leading?

Shifting the thinking – changing contributors and considerations

If work-life balance is about reducing the conflict between paid work and life’s other commitments then how this is achieved is changing with the generational shift in the workforce.

As our workforce ages, we are seeing three different generations in the workplace at the same time – Baby Boomers working alongside Generations X and Y. Managers must familiarise themselves with the challenges of running multi-generational teams, as the concept of flexible workplace management continues to evolve in response to the changing needs of Baby Boomers and the preferences of Gens X and Y.

Balanced workplaces, a cost or a benefit?

Organisations that value the ‘people’ aspect of business and who offer flexible work-life options for diverse employees are more competitive in attracting and retaining the best talent. Yet it seems many businesses are missing out by not empowering employees to manage the demands of work in balance with individual wellbeing.

It costs $20,000–$50,000 to replace a skilled staff member.

It costs $20,000–$50,000 to replace a skilled staff member. This begs the question, how much is a lack of flexibility in the workplace costing your business?

Ways to encourage work-life balance

Granted, there will be industry-specific opportunities and obstacles to creating a more flexible workplace and achieving work–life balance for staff. Take a look at some of the suggestions below, and see which of these strategies you could implement in your workplace.

Include and implement a work-life balance policy as part of your core value statements and corporate plans:

  • Be open and positive about making changes that create a more flexible workplace for employees.
  • Understand and communicate the economic benefits to the organisation of having a people-friendly workplace. Educate decision-makers that a work-life balance employer who respects and cares about employees and recognises that people have responsibilities outside the workplace will reap rewards for the business. On balance the care and respect is reciprocated. Support from senior executives sends a strong message to all others in the organisation about the actual importance of work-life balance for the organisation, so make it visible across the organisation.
  • Support mid-tier managers, who are critical in the process of implementing flexibility. Add workplace flexibility as a performance indicator to communicate to managers that flexibility and work-life balance is recognised as a key driver for core business outcomes.

Implement flexible work practices to accommodate family and personal responsibilities without detriment or penalty. Increase awareness of employees’ entitlements to flexible working arrangements by demonstrating an open approach. Communicate this in:

  • Newsletters
  • Team meetings
  • Training seminars
  • Employment/salary review meetings.

Demonstrate your commitment to creating a flexible workplace by:

  • Considering employees’ needs and requests
  • Being willing to trial flexible working arrangements
  • Surveying staff to identify their needs in balancing work and personal life and the suitability of current working arrangements
  • Incorporating your findings into the human resource management plan.

Also, think about implementing the following:

  • Invest in realistic and adequate staffing levels
  • Encourage employees to take up hobbies and/or pursue interests in their down time
  • Introduce a workplace health program
  • Introduce the idea of working smarter not harder.

Don’t forget, every workplace is different, but we’re all humans who need balance in our lives.

Sources

Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency. Facts on work/life balance in Australia [Online; accessed Mar 2011] Previously available from: www.eowa.gov.au

Nicholson J, Nairn A. The Boston Consulting Group. The Manager of the 21st Century – 2020 vision [Online] 2006 [Accessed Aug 2016] Available from: www.bcg.com

Pocock B, Skinner N, Pisaniello S. University of South Australia. The Australian Work and Life Index 2010. How much should we work: Working hours, holidays and working life: the participation challenge [Online; accessed Aug 2016] Available from: www.unisa.edu.au

WA Health. Achieving work life balance: Retention and attraction strategies for WA Health [Online; accessed Aug 2016] Available from: www.health.gov.au

This information has been reviewed for Bupa by health professionals and to the best of their knowledge is current and based on reputable sources of medical research. It should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice. Bupa HI Pty Ltd (and its related entities) makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the recommendations or assessments and is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of or reliance on the information, except that which cannot be excluded by law. We recommend that you consult your doctor or other qualified health professional if you have questions or concerns about your health.