Better Work-Life Balance Starts with Managers  

20 August 2019:

We all want to live rich and meaningful lives — at work and at home — without sacrificing aspects of either. Around the world, more and more employees are seeking flexible work arrangements as a result, and companies looking to meet these expectations are increasingly offering a variety of family-friendly policies. In Europe, remote work, flextime, compressed work weeks, (paid or unpaid) leaves of absence, and sabbaticals are the most common. Yet, as great as these policies sound on paper, many have unintended consequences on workers:

Flexibility does not always translate into better work-life balance. Remote workers often experience high work intensity and reduced autonomy due to their ability to communicate with colleagues through their devices at any time. This constant connectivity can blur the boundaries between work and non-work activities.

Paid family leaves and/or childcare support can raise perceptions of unfairness in the workforce. Such policies are typically reserved for workers with caregiving responsibilities, and are much less accessible to workers who desire the same level of work-life balance but lack urgent family responsibilities.

The majority of employees who do have access to flexible work arrangements are reluctant to use them. Many fear that doing so shows low work commitment and will have a negative impact on their career.

To figure out how organizations can overcome these drawbacks, we conducted a study examining the experiences of over 400 working parents in Italy — 58% men and 42% women at an average age of 43 years old. We asked participants to rate their work environment, direct supervisor, and organizational culture on a scale of one to five, with five being the most family supportive and one being the least. We also asked them how often they use family-friendly policies available at work (if any) as well as the number of hours they work per week.

Through our research we discovered that companies need to focus their efforts in two main areas if they wish to create a healthy work-life balance for their teams:

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Source: HBR

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