Having work life balance sounds wonderful doesn’t it? But what actually is work life balance and how can you get it?
Work life balance is defined as an individual’s ability to meet both their work and family commitments, as well as other non-work responsibilities and activities1.
People who get the balance right tend to have less stress and greater life satisfaction than those who don’t. As time progresses, the effects of good work life balance strengthen, suggesting that the longer you can keep work and life in balance, the more stress is reduced and the more your life satisfaction increases.
Getting the balance right
How your job fits in with the rest of your life seems to have the greatest impact on the ability to maintain a healthy balance. People who emphasise family when attempting a balance will tend to experience a higher quality of life. By contrast, an imbalance caused by a greater emphasis on work has a negative effect on quality of life2.
What can organisations do?
A study3 in 2005 of 223 medium sized organisations in Australia found that that over 95% of Australian organisations had implemented some kind of work life balance strategy. But few workplaces had employees who used them (only 6% of organisations had 80% or more employees using the practices in work life balance policies). Researchers concluded that many workplaces adopt work life balance without actually implementing practical strategies employees can use to improve their work life balance.
Practices that improve work life balance for employees can help to foster the employees’ quality of life by reducing work life conflict and, as a consequence, workers will be more satisfied, motivated and committed to their employers4. Organisations that stress work life balance practices experience improvements in productivity, performance, and turnover.
Another study5 found that individuals benefit from having better health and wellbeing when they have good work life balance which further adds to organisational productivity and performance. There is also a direct link between perceived employee health, wellbeing and work life balance which were all largely influenced by the availability and employees' active usage of organisational work life balance programs.
Effective examples of work life balance initiatives in organisations include:
- Employees working fewer hours for the same pay
- Flexibility in hours worked
- Work practices that promote individual health and wellness
- Importance on safety
- Fair treatment
- Family friendly culture
- Support from supervisors
Implementing work life balance practices will be different for every organization, as different organisations have differing scope for flexibility. If you would like some assistance reviewing your organisation’s work life balance practices call 1800 629 277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Parkes, L. P., & Langford, P. H. (2008). Work-life balance or work-life alignment? A test of the importance of work-life balance for employee engagement and intention to stay in organisations. Journal of Management and Organization, 14(3), 267-284. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/233252985?accountid=178506
2. Antecedents and outcomes of work–family conflict: Testing a model of the work–family interface, Journal of Applied Psychology 77: 65–78.; Greenhaus JH, Collins KM and Shaw JD (2003). The relation between work–family balance and quality of life, Journal of Vocational Behavior 63: 510–531.).
3. De Cieri H, Holmes B, Abbott J and Pettit T (2005) Achievements and challenges for work–
life balance strategies in Australian organizations, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16: 90–103.
4 Cegarra-Leiva, D., Sánchez-Vidal, M. E., & Cegarra-Navarro, J. (2012). Understanding the link between work life balance practices and organisational outcomes in SMEs. Personnel Review, 41(3), 359-379. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00483481211212986
5. Zheng, C., Molineux, J., Mirshekary, S., & Scarparo, S. (2015). Developing individual and organisational work-life balance strategies to improve employee health and wellbeing. Employee Relations, 37(3), 354-379. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1664462825?accountid=178506