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Work-life Balance: Communication Complementing Policy

 

How many recruiting campaigns advertise work life balance? What is the reality?

According to the Australian Work and Life Index in August 2010:
• 25% of women and 20% of men working full time were unhappy with their work-life balance
• The percentage of employees who claim that work often or always interferes with activities outside work has increased from 19.8 per cent in 2007 to 24.2 per cent in 2010.

Clearly, recruitment marketing strategies are not transcending into the workforce. As the report states the fact that more than half of workers are not working the hours they would prefer suggests that despite flexibility changes over the past twenty years many workplaces are far from flexible on terms that suit the workers’ needs. (1)  Workers who have more say over when, where and how much they work, have better work- life outcomes. The negative repercussions of poor work life arrangements go beyond the individual and the workplace, also affecting the larger economy.

An avenue of improvement is through implementing policy reflecting the need for flexible work hours. The Fair Work Act of 2009 is a step in the right direction. The solution really lies in candid two way communication between employer and employees, realistic expectations and an understanding around business drivers and outcomes. Improved rights for employees to request for flexibility are important, but only if these rights have real operational meaning in workplaces where reasonable workloads, supervision and cultures support their realisation. (2)

Edward George believes that business success and life balance need not be mutually exclusive. Employees satisfied with their work- life balance contribute positively to the culture of the workplace which in turn improves the quality and productivity of all workers. The best way as employers to understand the impression people have of their role, expectations and workload is to speak to them… So arrange some time to open up the lines of communication and see what your employees views are on their current work life balance.

Shannon Ziegelaar
 
1. Pocock, B. Skinner and N. Pisaniello, The Australian Work and Life Index 2010, Centre for Work and Life, University of South Australia, August 2010, p. 13
2. Ibid.

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