Foundation report on the relationship between quality of work and quality of life

The interrelationship between the quality of economic and social development
has become an important aspect of policy debates at European level in recent
times. The European Commission and Council of Ministers have increasingly
focused on this issue and the social partners have indicated growing awareness
of, and interest in, policies promoting corporate social responsibility and
initiatives to improve employee work­life balance. By concentrating efforts in
these areas, it is hoped to improve both the quality of the work environment as
well as aspects of the individual's private life.

The European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions
has published a new report on these topics, especially on Working and living in
an enlarged Europe. It represents an initial attempt to analyse the
relationship between quality of work and quality of life, on the basis of
quantitative comparative data. The results highlight the relationship between
economic development and the importance of better quality working conditions
for subjective well-being. The analysis is based on data from the European
Commission's Eurobarometer survey carried out in the acceding countries (now
the new Member States) and candidate countries in spring 2002, and standard
EU15 Eurobarometers. This report is one in a series of reports on quality of
life in an enlarging Europe.

The individual welfare of citizens is determined by conditions and resources in
their economic and private sphere. The balance between both domains is defined
in a more or less formal ‘social contract', which forms the basis of a
particular welfare state regime. Employees spend at least one third of their
time at work and devote, in many instances, more time to work than to leisure,
friends and family combined. Therefore, the distribution of time between work
and private life, and the organisation of its interrelationship, is of pivotal
importance for the overall quality of life of citizens in Europe.

As part of its overall monitoring of quality of life, the European Foundation
for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions takes a particular
interest in the analysis of the quality of working conditions and in the
interrelationship with various aspects of quality of life1. This is an issue
that has been neglected in the past, not only by the Foundation, but also by
other international organisations that provide empirically based policy advice,
such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and
the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The only exception here is the
analysis and development of policies relating to the issue of work­life balance
and, in particular, of family friendly work practices. One reason for this
knowledge gap is the lack of available comparative data, as most survey data
cover either working or living conditions separately, but do not include both
aspects within one survey sample.

The prime objective of this report is, not to describe and analyse working
conditions in the EU but, to explore the dynamic relations and
interdependencies between various aspects of quality of living and working
conditions in an enlarged EU, as perceived by its citizens. Since 1990, the
Foundation has systematically monitored and analysed the quality of working
conditions, using three comprehensive, EU-wide working conditions surveys2. A
fourth working conditions survey will be conducted in summer 2005 and initial
results will be available at the beginning of 2006.

Further information

AplusA-online.de - Source: European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions