Work-life balance is more important than the level of salary in attracting and retaining staff, according to new research.
While Australians have the longest working hours of any OECD country, with 20-25 per cent working more than 50 hours each week, the research conducted by training and consultancy firm Converge International showed almost 80 per cent of the workers rated work-life balance as very important or important.
The company’s CEO Lindsay McMillan said an imbalance between work and life could result in declining quality of life, loss of community, erosion of relationships and resentment.
“If workplaces are to avoid harvesting this kind of negative atmosphere then they really need to take serious consideration of these trends and begin concerning themselves with negotiating and transforming the current pattern on ‘work-life collision’ into one of ‘work-life balance’,” Dr McMillan said.
The research also identified key mechanisms for incorporating flexibility into an organisation, including flexible working hours and locations, creative leave options as well as carer assistance.
Dr McMillan said an effective strategy required a cultural shift within the organisation, with senior leaders demonstrating employees that they could switch over to work-life balance initiatives without risking their career progression.
“The skills shortage is not just an economic reality but also a demographic reality due to shifts in population, generations, perspectives and expectations. Although it may be an imagined ideal for many employees today, work-life balance needs to become tomorrow’s reality as the sustained future of the workforce depends on it,” he said.
“Any employer who is serious about signing up the best talent available, maintaining low levels of staff turnover and securing their business for tomorrow will recognise the need to do something about work-life balance now.”
Dr McMillan will discuss the results of the research at the Safety Conference to be held from October 28 to 30 at Sydney Olympic Park.