Work-Life Balance

"Working to live - living to work"

Nowadays, more than ever before companies must examine issues surrounding work-life balance.

The number of highly qualified young executives is declining but, at the same time, the life plans of an increasing number of high flyers are geared to personal development, also outside their work environment. "War of talents" and a change in social values together mean that companies will have to create a new balance between the attainment of company and individual objectives. What strategies are available for this?

The provision of external support programmes (e.g. childcare and looking after the aged) is not sufficient to meet the new challenges. Work-life balance is based on a promoting corporate culture: A policy of reconciling work and private life is supported at all company levels and is viewed and communicated as an integrating element of management with clearly defined goals.

In practice, it allows for aspects such as working time, workflows and work contents, working environment, information and communication policy, leadership and staff development as well as remuneration systems.

Practical Consequences

The exchange of experience on issues of work-life balance in the  EfH network can be summarised as follows:

  1. Work-life balance: Core area for workplace partnership and workplace health promotion

    The work-life balance is an important core area of a corporate culture based on partnership. The relevant issues no longer deal solely with the needs of mothers and families but increasingly with the social responsibility and private ties of all employees throughout their working lives. Companies which recognise and respect the needs of their employees at different stages in life are best positioned and prepared to meet the challenges of the changing world of work.

  2. Work-life balance in the context of a heterogeneous workforce

    Corporate strategies to improve the work-life balance should take specific national and regional circumstances into account. Sociodemographic changes as well as changes in the labour market situation have an impact on the make-up of the workforce in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, family, health and lifestyle. These differences create different individual needs to which strategies to improve the work-life balance must respond.

  3. Culture change in the company - Fundamental condition for a sustainable work-life balance

    Companies can organise a broad range of external support systems to meet the specific needs of their employees. In order to have a decisive impact on important company objectives (loyalty, recruitment, motivation and performance of the workforce), company activities must be based on a culture change which adopts a partnership approach. The fundamental condition for the successful implementation of a work-life balance policy is support from the management. Only in this way can investments in the work-life balance result in a successful finance and resource planning of the company.

"Research clearly shows that work-life policies have an impact on retention, motivation and productivity."

Gisela Erler, pme Familienservice GmbH, Germany

(Keynote Speaker, EfH Business Meeting "Work-Life Balance", April 15 - 16, 2002, London, UK)

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