Employees not happy to pay for work-life balance

by 21 Aug 2007

EMPLOYEES WANT a better work-life balance but do not believe they should have to sacrifice a significant portion of their salary to achieve it, according to recent research.

While work-life balance continues to rate highly as a driver of job satisfaction, 42 per cent of employees stated they were not prepared to accept a reduced salary in order to improve their current situation.

A smaller group of employees (37 per cent) said they were willing to sacrifice a small percentage (up to 10 per cent) of their current salary in order to improve their work-life balance.

While some employees are willing to give up small amounts of money to achieve a better balance in their lives, the research reflects the ongoing shift in dynamics within the employer-employee relationship, according to Gary Lazzarotto, managing director of HudsonAustralia and New Zealand, which conducted the survey of 2,100 employees.

“As a result of the current talent-short employment market, we are seeing employees demanding more in terms of benefits from employers. It’s simply a result of the supply and demand equation sitting in favour of the employee at the current point in time,”Lazzarotto said.

“The strength of the market means employees find themselves in a position where they don’t have to make sacrifices in order to achieve things that have traditionally been seen as ‘employment luxuries’.

“Flexibility with hours, the ability to work from home and varied leave options have become commonplace within leading workplaces today.”

The research also showed 47 per cent of employees rated work-life balance considerations as a trigger which either has, or would lead them to look elsewhere for a new job.

“The link between flexible work options and a reduction in turnover has been established for some time and as a result most companies have some sort of work-life balance program in place, however with research showing 50 per cent of employees are saying if their employer doesn’t get it right they are willing to walk – it is probably time for a review of what you offer,” Lazzarotto said.

A better approach

1. Acknowledge that employees whose work and personal lives are balanced bring significant flow-on benefits for organisations.

Improved organisational commitment

Reduced turnover and higher retention

Reduced absenteeism

2. Change the widespread perception that visibility equals productivity.

Focus on effectiveness rather than lenght of work hours

Consider the benefits to the organisation of having employees physically present for less time (that is, overhead savings - electricity/office space, reduced absenteeism)

3. Recognise that to be at their best, employees need to view their work as personally meaningful.

Examine the type of work that each employee undertakes and attempt to maximise satisfaction by providing task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback.

Be open and creative when thinking about how jobs or tasks might be shared, broken up, done differently, re-allocated or performed at different times or locations.

4. Ensure formal policies are consistent with what employees actually experience. Policy provision alone is not sufficient to ensure employees' work-life balance.

Senior managers need to 'walk the talk' and demonstrate that balancing paid work and non-work activities is positive, necessary for physical and psychological health and will not damage career prospects.

Educate managers and supervisors about how to promote flexibility and work-life balance (ie link between work-life balance and productivity)

5. Adopt a 'give and take' philosophy. Both employer and employee need to be willing to bend a little.

It is important for both parties to engage the idea and be flexible in their approach.

An employee with a flexible work from home arrangement will benefit from less travel time and cost, while the organisation will benefit in that the employee will have access to a large block of uninterrupted work


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