Is work-life balance part of your corporate culture?
The massive influx of women on the labour market has triggered major changes in the family structure. Quebec families have had to redefine the parental roles, and despite everything, considerable challenges in terms of the work-family balance are still present. The number of magazine articles and blog posts dedicated to personal organization, time management, and tips for balancing work and family responsibilities confirms that these obstacles have not been overcome. However, individuals who want to start a family must necessarily play a double role: that of the full-time parent and that of the full-time worker. That being said, the strategies they can adopt to succeed at this balancing act are limited by time. The consequences for organizations that are created by this conflict between work and family obligations have been widely documented. So now, here are a few ideas to establish a corporate culture that integrates work-life balance.
Measures related to the workplace
Teleworking is considered a key lever to make positive changes that include work-life balance to a corporate culture (Dumas & Ruiller, 2014). However, human resources management can become a real challenge when professional activities take place outside of the workplace (Walrave, 2010). It is therefore essential to follow a rigorous approach and respect certain elements that will contribute to the success of a teleworking program. For instance, assessing the essential skills of employees who would benefit from that program is critical (Walrave, 2010). The Interest in Telecommuting Test (TOTEM) is an example of a powerful orientation tool used to measure characteristics associated with productive teleworkers.
Measures related to working hours
Although measures related to time or place are the most sought after by individuals (Tremblay, 2008, cited by Najem & Tremblay, 2010), we can see that they are, unfortunately, still rarely used. These measures include the compressed working week, varying punch-in and punch-out times, banked hours, annualized hours (e.g. reduced working hours during the school year or during the summer), and so on. In that regard, a recent study showed that having a larger number of conciliation policies reduces the risk of psychological distress among (Boulet & Bourdais, 2016) women. However, it does not have the same effect on men (Boulet & Bourdais, 2016).
The needs of employees in a given organization can be highly varied. There are many policies to appease the work-family conflict, and different policies may be used depending on the employee’s situation (Closon, 2009). Examples in that regard include on-site childcare services, household worker services, on-site training gyms and assistance programs that can help employees access mental health services.
All said and done, what appears to play a major role with regards to conciliation policies and employee satisfaction is the employee’s perceived organizational support (Closon, 2009). This finding reinforces the importance of the role of human resources services in implementing a work-family balancing policy, not only to oversee the practices established, but also to prevent injustices within the organization. Individuals have expectations towards organizations, and organizations have concerns about their ability to match their competitors. It makes sense to reach an agreement that represents a win-win for both parties, providing they deploy all of the necessary efforts. What about you? As an employee or an employer, how do you handle the work-family conflict?
“In a world constantly on the move it is better to address change than to change the dressing.”
– Francis Blanche
Boulet, M., and L. Bourdais. Work-Family Balance Practices and Psychological Distress Among Employees in Quebec: A Gender Comparison. 442-467, 2016.
Dumas, M., and C. Ruiller. “Le télétravail : les risques d’un outil de gestion des frontières entre vie personnelle et vie professionnelle?”, Management & Avenir 74, 8 (2014): 71-95. https://doi.org/10.3917/mav.074.0071.
Tremblay, D.-G. Conciliation emploi-famille et temps sociaux. Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2008.
Walrave, M. “Comment introduire le télétravail?”, Gestion 35, 1 (2010): 76-87. https://doi.org/10.3917/riges.351.0076.
The article by Walrave (2010) suggests a five-step process to successfully introduce teleworking.