Work-life balance is about effectively managing the juggling act between paid work and the other activities that are important to people. It's about work not completely crowding out the other things that matter to people like time with family, participation in community activities, voluntary work, personal development, leisure and recreation. It is sometimes called working flexibly.
Research suggests that improving the balance between our lives at work and outside of work can bring real benefits for employers and employees.
Work-life balance is different for everyone. For some it may mean more work, for others less. There's no 'one size fits all' solution.
Benefits for business
Good work-life balance policies and practices are good for business. Some of the benefits are:
Getting and keeping the right staff
Finding and keeping good staff can be difficult especially in a tight labour market. Employers who offer work-life balance and flexible work options are likely to have the competitive edge, gain access to a wider recruitment pool, and are more likely to hold onto existing staff.
Diversity Works NZ awards winners (external link) show some employers have successfully worked towards providing good workplace cultures and environments for their staff.
Getting the best from staff
Poor work-life balance can lead to stress, absenteeism and low output. Employees’ general health and wellbeing, work satisfaction and motivation are all likely to be improved where work-life balance practices are working well. In these cases, staff are likely to be more committed, more flexible and more responsive to the business and customers’ needs.
The Diversity Works NZ (external link) website has examples of how employers have focused on their employees’ needs to create an inclusive and healthy workplace.
Being an ‘employer of choice’ and future proofing
Being an ‘employer of choice’ can give you the competitive edge for attracting talent. Employees who are positive about their workplace help to create a positive attitude in the wider community. Staff are a vital business resource. It makes sound business sense to develop and protect this resource.
Getting and keeping the right staff and working positively with them will help to increase productivity. Recruitment, training and absenteeism costs are high. These will reduce where employees are engaged, motivated and committed.
Diversity Works NZ survey results (external link) find that flexible working is one of the top priorities for workers.
“… 69% of professionals in NZ state that work life balance, including flexible working, is their top priority when seeking a new role.”
Benefits for employees
Employees in companies with work-life balance practices enjoy benefits such as being:
- able to manage life at home, work and in the community in a more balanced way
- able to work in flexible ways so that earning an income and managing family/other commitments become easier
- part of a supportive workplace that values and trusts staff.