02/28/2007

Having a Life - While Keeping our Jobs

More and more workers report that they work at high speed "all of the time,"
and more and more work 50 hours per week or more. As work takes up a bigger and
bigger chunk of our lives, it's becoming more difficult to pay attention to
other important matters - namely our families, our downtime, and our general
well-being.

There are several reasons for the recent buzz about "work/life balance". Since
the mid-60s, we have seen fundamental shifts in economy, in society, and in
families. In particular, the labour market has seen more women in the
workplace, more two-income families, more single-parent families, an aging
population, changing immigration patterns, and a greater number of non-standard
work arrangements.

Workers are juggling more responsibilities and working longer hours than ever
before. It's not uncommon for someone to put in frequent paid or unpaid
overtime at work, while trying to also fulfill the roles of parenting and/or
caring for an aging parent. Today, 70 percent of women with children under the
age of six are in the labour force, compared to only 25 percent in 1965. That
results in many more families in which both parents spend long hours at a job
before coming home to their second job, that of running a young family with
equally pressing needs. Not surprisingly, when work and family conflict, stress
is the number one side effect.

As workers have been pulled in different directions, many employers have made
efforts to ease the pressure by offering alternative work arrangements. By
being flexible and giving employees options such as part-time work, job
sharing, flexible hours or the choice to work from home, many have succeeded in
reducing employee stress and the feeling of being overloaded.

More can be done, however. Many employers need to find ways of reducing
employee workloads, particularly that of managers and professionals, in all
sectors. They should rely less on overtime, and recognize and reward workers
who do put in extra hours. Employees should have the option of refusing
overtime, without fear of penalty. Employers must make it clear that they don't
expect workers to choose between their families and their career advancement.

If you're considering implementing a program that officially addresses
work/life balance for your employees, tailor the program to suit your
organization's needs and corporate culture. Involve employees in the process
and consult them frequently.

Setting up a work/life program can bring significant changes in the workplace,
but these changes are becoming necessary in the new, ever-changing workplace.
Besides, having a corporate culture that fosters a healthy work-life balance
brings many rewards, including more trusting relationships between employees
and the employer, a more enjoyable work environment, and happier workers who
feel encouraged, supported and rewarded for their hard work.


 
OSH Answers from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
offers guidance on how to set up a work/life balance program in a workplace.


Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety