What is Work Life Balance
An agreed work life balance definition has been difficult to obtain since the concept emerged in the late 1970’s.
A common theme around defining work life balance is the ability for an individual to successfully manage work and everything else that makes up an individual’s life.
The balancing of needs, responsibilities, expectations and desires of ourselves, partners, families, friends, employers and community groups we believe are key contributors to achieving balance.
Why is Work Life Balance Important?
Over 11 million Australians work, therefore it is important to understand that as much as some employers think or hope that they do, employees do not leave their lives at the door.
Work is one part of an individual’s life and in some cases a major part, considering the amount of awake hours we spend either travelling to, working and then travelling home from work.
According to The Australian Work and Life Index 2010 60 percent of women feel consistently time pressured and nearly 50 percent of men feel the same way.
Another notable mention is the increase in the past three years that a quarter of women working full-time and one fifth of similar men were dissatisfied with their work-life.
Work-life conflict does result in negative consequences for individuals, such as health problems to relationship breakdown, which no doubt then impacts an employee’s ability to work.
So What Does This Mean For Employers?
Employer who recognise and respect that people do have lives and help their workforce achieve a balanced life – through flexible working options, alternative leave arrangements and other activities aimed to help individuals achieve a balanced life , the sooner we all will reap significant benefits in doing so.
Some benefits an employer can experience with the successful work life balance culture include
- Enhanced ability to attract and retain staff
- Increased productivity
- Reduced absenteeism
- Increased employee engagement
- Increased organisation’s commitment
- Reduced turnover
- Improved job satisfaction
- Enhanced employer brand and also market respect
- Improve the ability to tap into critical groups to cover skill shortages e.g. working mums, retirees
- Opportunity to reduce labour and associated costs e.g. work from home, less office space required, part time options – lower wage costs than a full time equivalent
With the support of an employer, individuals can achieve a better work life balance, which can result in other benefits as well, including;
- Individual benefits – employees are happier, more productive and have improved health
- Family benefits – improved relationships outside of work, including with partners, kids, family, friends
- Community benefits – ability for an organisation’s workforce to participate in community activities
- Environmental benefits – some work life balance options offer advantages to the environment as well e.g. work from home opportunities allows less traffic and cars on the road, reducing our pollution
As briefly outlined, there are many benefits associated with supporting staff to achieve work life balance.
It is important to note that work life balance support can also be offered at nil or low costs, providing the opportunity for even the smallest of employers or cost-conscious organisations to implement work life balance options for their staff.