Obstacles and Solutions
It was found that top level management commitment to work life balance initiatives is essential for success. Unfortunately in a number of organisations there were difficulties in getting this commitment.
A negative attitude towards change was an issue in one organisation. This was overcome by the implementation and evaluation of pilot programmes.
The perceived cost also gave rise to difficulties in persuading a company to invest in the area. The funding provided by the National Framework Committee assisted in initially overcoming these reservations. Due to the success of the initial project the organisation has committed to continuing the project and other work life balance arrangements at its own cost. Highlighting the benefits of the introduction of work life balance arrangements which often outweigh the cost may assist other organisations in overcoming similar challenges. However, it can be difficult to evaluate the effect of work life balance policies as all of the costs and benefits may not be quantifiable.
An employee survey in one organisation highlighted that the main cause of stress was lack of communication with employees on organisational decisions and lack of feedback regarding job performance. To address this, the organisation has introduced a performance management system and has set up some employee focus groups to address issues such as communication.
Managers, though very supportive of their staff attending a stress management course, were themselves reluctant to attend due to their workloads and a reluctance to be seen to need this type of training. In future the course will be a compulsory part of the management development programme in this organisation.
To overcome the lack of information relevant to the Irish market one of the organisations invited a number of other Irish companies to discuss work life balance issues in an open forum to increase their understanding of the issues and develop pragmatic actions.
In one organisation where staff had a wide diversity of working conditions it was recognised that a solution for one staff member may not be necessary or feasible for others. In response it was decided to have work life balance policies and procedures for the organisation but to address each case in a flexible manner in consultation with the staff member and management. This led to the creation of individual responses to various requests within an overall culture of appreciation of the value of work life balance policies.