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The Thinking Cap


The Work-life Balancing Act

Article prepared: 27 May 2014

There is a growing demand for more flexible working arrangements across Australia, as balancing work and life commitments has increasingly become an issue in our society.  More and more, employees are finding it difficult to find a satisfactory balance between work and family commitments, leading to job dissatisfaction and an increase in work-related psychological injury claims. Read more to find out how a flexible work environment results in the attraction and retention of skilled employees and the strategies that can help you achieve this goal.

When at work, be at work and give it your all.  When at home, be at home and spend time with your family – don’t worry about the things you didn’t get done at the office.  This could be a case of easier said than done.  There is growing awareness that work and other life commitments cannot be easily separated.  Increasing work demands, longer working hours and the consequent rise in work-related psychological injury claims are all indicators of a need for a more balanced approach.

Work-life balance (WLB) refers to the interaction of one’s life and work commitments and the ability to attain a satisfactory balance between the two.

Why is Work-life Balance Important?

A changing work environment, including an increase in the participation of women in the workforce, and the ageing population, shows that the number of employees with responsibilities for the care of family members will continue to increase. Flexible work arrangements enable carers of young children or elderly relatives to attend to their responsibilities when required. Times of illness or school commitments are good examples.  There is a need for organisations to adopt strategies and policies that accommodate the work-life needs of an increasingly diverse workforce.

Additionally, there is strong evidence to show that good worker health and well-being boosts organisational health and business performance.  Psychological injury (such as stress and depression) brought on by increased work demands are influenced by the work environment and the way that work is organised.  These work factors are known as psychosocial hazards and when not effectively managed, have been shown to negatively impact both the employee and the organisation.

Responsibilities Under the Law

The Work Health and Safety Act (2011) states that employers must ensure the health and safety of its employees.  Health is defined under the Act to mean both physical and psychological health.  This has led to the awareness for the requirement to manage psychosocial risks. WLB is a key method of this management.

All Australian states adopting these laws will have to consider how they are managing psychological health under the legislation. Regardless, workplaces should and do have a moral obligation to manage psychological hazards in the workplace, including WLB.

Benefits of Work-life Balance

Balance between work and life commitments requires a flexible working environment.  Through providing greater flexibility in work arrangements, along with other factors, organisations can: 

  • improve employee retention
  • reduce staff turnover
  • improve performance
  • reduce absenteeism
  • improve physical/mental health
  • attract broader talent pool
  • attain positive employer branding
  • induce earlier return from maternity leave

Strategies for Work-life Balance

Effective, flexible work arrangements are achieved when organisations develop a positive WLB thinking culture through the following initiatives:

  • managers and supervisors demonstrating commitment to creating a flexible workplace that supports WLB by considering employees’ needs and requests
  • implementing flexible work practices to provide greater flexibility to all employees (including supervisors, managers and other senior staff)
  • ensuring flexible working hours and leave arrangements to accommodate family and personal responsibilities without detriment or penalty
  • management training and accountability – managers to be responsible and accountable for implementing WLB strategies
  • increasing awareness of employees’ entitlements in accessing flexible working arrangements, assistance and services, such as
    • time management programs
    • life skills programs 
    • subsidised/free fitness memberships 
    • job sharing 
    • working from home 
    • flexible starting/finishing times 
    • study leave 
    • part-time work

How PSB Solutions Can Help

PSB Solutions can assist your organisation in supporting work-life balance initiatives through:

  • establishing leadership support and commitment through targeted training programs and coaching
  • stress management seminars and workshops
  • workshops on workforce psychological fitness for managers and supervisors; and
  • psychological fitness risk assessments.

Please contact PSB Solutions on (08) 6272 3900 or email us to discuss your needs and set up a complementary consultation session.

Further Reading

Work Health & Safety Act (2011).  Retrieved from

Bulger, C. A., Matthews, R. A., & Hoffman, M. E. (2007). Work and personal life boundary management: Boundary strength, work/personal life balance, and the segmentation-integration continuum. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 12, 365-375.

Hawksley, B. (2006). Work-related stress, work/life balance and personal life coaching. British Journal of Community Nursing,12, 34-36.

Murthy, V. & Guthrie, J. (2012). Management control of work-life balance: A narrative study of an Australian financial institution. Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, 15, 258-280.

Pocock, B. (2005). Work-life ‘balance’ in Australia: Limited progress, dim prospects. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 43, 198-208.


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