In an era where money, prestige and status often
take on more importance than being a good parent, more and more employees are taking a step back, analyzing their lifestyle
and realizing that making career sacrifices for the family poses an attraction and return that no job can provide. In short
they are striving for work-life balance. .
Work has always been part of life. For many, it
is the primary way in which we interact with others in society. However, new technologies, growing competition and the intensification
of customer demand means that for more and more workers, life has become work – and whilst some are thriving, others
are increasingly unhappy. (Employersforwork-lifebalance,
Most workers are feeling a time squeeze. Research
has revealed that nearly three-quarters of full-time workers want to spend more time with their families.
Women in particular are affected. Despite the mass
influx of women into paid employment, they continue to bear the brunt of domestic labour, doing a double shift of paid and
unpaid work. British workers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied, with working hours and workload top of the list of complaints.
And despite isolated good practice and the benefits of effective work-life balance – reduced absenteeism, less staff
turnover and a productive, committed workforce – most organizations are not responding to these ongoing issues. (Employersforwork-lifebalance, 2007)
This is partly because many organizations have
found it difficult to reconcile flexible working with the embedded culture of nine to five schedules. Indeed Britain
works the longest hours in Europe – and yet it lags behind in the productivity tables;
the way of working it clings to isn’t delivering the goods and yet it won’t let it go. It is also partly because
work-life balance is still not seen as relevant to everyone. Things are starting to change, albeit slowly. Men, key in changing
workplace cultures, are coming under increasing pressure from partners to participate more in housework and childcare, and
the demand from them for more work-life balance is starting to grow. (Employersforwork-lifebalance, 2007)
Work-life balance is now well established in the
business lexicon. It has progressed from being simply a parents’ or careers’ issue to a concept that is relevant
to the entire workforce.
The meaning of work-life balance is also broadening.
Research suggests that control over working time – time sovereignty – is just as important as the number of hours
worked. Workers who have more say over their working time feel less stressed and are more satisfied with and committed to
their work. That’s a concept that is relevant to everyone, including over two-fifths of full-time workers in a recent
survey who thought they would be more productive at work if they were given more control over their time.
Demographic trends suggest that work-life balance
is not going to go away. More and more women are entering the labour market, Britain
has an ageing population and people are increasingly demanding that their employers enable them to have a better work-life
Monster Career Advice, Krumrie Matt “Putting
Their Families First.”
Available from http://career-advice.monster.com/work-life-balance/Putting-Their-Families-First/home.aspx
The Work Foundation, Hutton Will “Employers
and Work-life Balance.”
Available from http://www.employersforwork-lifebalance.org.uk/will_hutton.htm
The Work Foundation, Ellwood Peter “Employers
and Work-life Balance.”
Available from http://www.employersforwork-lifebalance.org.uk/ellwood.htm