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Work/Life Balance – NZ’s unexpected tragedy

Press Release

29 January 2008

Work/Life Balance – NZ’s unexpected tragedy

Lip service not enough as Kiwi families crumble

Kiwi companies need to wake up to the realities of work/life balance before it’s too late, warns workplace researcher Diane Child, of Success Consultants. In the fight to attract and retain good employees in this tight labour market companies need to do much more.

“Gone are the days of the one-income family and now two-career families are the norm. Women are struggling to balance and are often exhausted by the demands of a career, motherhood and running a home, resulting in increased stress levels and increased family breakdown. This is a time-bomb waiting to explode. In Australia a recent relationship study saw a link between changing working patterns, including long work hours and family disintegration, calling this “an unexpected tragedy”.

Success Consultants has developed some innovative programmes and conducts on-going research into work/life balance satisfaction through its online assessments. Initial results show that only 55% of people are satisfied with their work/life balance. That means 45% aren’t! These results are similar to those found by the EEO Trust (54%) and the Department of Labour’s 2007 satisfaction surveys (52%).

With many senior executives raised in the Baby Boomer years when the ‘Presbyterian work ethic’ was the norm, the work/life balance concept struggles to make an impact.

“They fail to see the connection between unhealthy, unbalanced and unwell employees and the resulting loss of productivity. Many are not good role models themselves and still believe that working every hour God sends is a great example of good productivity. It’s not.”

Ms Child says that according to Success Consultants’ research almost 70% of respondents say that work/life balance was important to them. So organisations need to change their mindset as these people will seek out organisations that meet these needs and allow a life outside of work. “Organisations need to wake up and become more willing to change, especially in a tight labour market.”

“Research shows only 30% of Generation X say they have a good level of activity and have any time to spend on leisure. This is also the generation that is most likely to have small children and report they are least likely to get adequate sleep at night,” says Ms Child.

New Zealand companies are only paying lip service to establishing work/life balance programmes and although many would like to be seen as an ‘employer of choice’ they are often not prepared to make any dent in their budget to do so.

2008 is the year for New Zealand companies to wake up to the real payoffs that come from work/life balance. Rhetoric is all very well but it’s time for Kiwi companies to ‘put your money where your mouth is’ and make some positive changes for their workforce, as well as their bottom line, says Ms Child.


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