Labour, Employment and Work in New Zealand 2006
employers, were domestic/special leave, flexible work hours, discouraging long hours, study leave/career break,support for carers, family oriented social events, flexiblework location, transition between full and part-time work in same position, children welcome at work, providinginformation on work-life balance, job sharing, part-timework at senior levels, fridge for storing breast milk, onsite breastfeeding room/area, compressed working week,term-time working, school holiday and after-schoolprogrammes or subsidies, childcare facilities or subsidies,and having a health and wellness programme (EEO Trust,2006).
The Relationship Between Work-LifeBalance Policies, Initiatives and Uptake, theRole of Managers, and Productivity
The role of a supportive supervisor or manager in positiveoutcomes for family-friendly benefits was confirmed in alarge nationally representative sample study byThompson and Prottas (2006). An earlier study byThompson et al (1999) found managerial supportaccounted for most of the explained variance in work-family culture, ahead of negative career consequencesand organizational time demands. This earlier, lessrepresentative, study also found that work-family culturewas positively related to employees’ use of work-familybenefits and affective commitment to their work, andnegatively related to work-family conflict and intentionsto leave an organisation.Bardoel (2003) investigated the relative roles of managerial factors versus institutional and resourcedependent factors in explaining employer provision of work-family programmes and an accommodatingworkplace culture in Australia, and found that managerialfactors accounted for most of the variance. Perceivedbenefits/efficiency gains was related to high number of work-family initiatives being offered. Managers’attitudes and strategies were related to overall number of initiatives offered. Institutional forces or policies of largeor public sector organizations added to rather than drovedecisions re work-family implementation. Individualmanagers drove the outcome. Institutional factors hadmore influence on the workplace culture beingaccommodating of work-family programmes. Bloom et al(2003) reviewed 732 manufacturing organizations in theUS, France, the UK, and Germany to investigate the link between work-life balance and
productivity. They foundthat there was no direct relationship between work-lifebalance policies/initiatives in an organization andincreased productivity. (there was no direct negativerelationship between work-life balance and productivity).The intermediary factor was managers: good managementwas linked to both work-life balance policies and higherproductivity. This suggests that good management is thekey to work-life balance policies translating into positiveoutcomes such as increased productivity. This study didnot investigate implementation of work-life policies.O’Driscoll et al (2003) In a study of 355 managers inNew Zealand found perceptions of an organization havinga family supportive culture and a supportive supervisorwere significantly related to reduced work to homeinterference, but only the supportive supervisor alsoreduced home to work interference. Just having a work-life policy or initiatives was not related to reduction inpsychological stress from conflict between work andhome.White et al found that the ability of supervisors toinfluence negative job to home spillover increasedbetween 1992 and 2000.According to De Cieri et al (2002), the main barriers toimplementation and management of work-life balancestrategies identified in existing literature includeorganizational culture and attitudes and resistance of supervisors and middle management. In an analysis of three surveys of Australian organizations from 1997 to2000, they found the main barriers to implementation andmanagement of work-life balance strategies includedinaction by both senior and line managers andunsupportive culture. In particular De Cieri et al foundthat uptake of work-life provisions was positively relatedto the number of provisions available, but there was a lagbetween provision and uptake. The authors note that thissupports other research that found “an organizationalculture that is unsupportive of work-life strategies maylead to employee reluctance to utilize benefits” (De Cieri,2002:5).These findings are consistent with a body of evidence thatshows work-life balance and diversity policies do not inthemselves produce better outcomes; that they need to beimplemented through a linked series of strategies thatcreate a supportive culture through integration into theorganisations’ core business strategies and throughmanagement accountability for outcomes (ManagingWork/Life Balance, 2004; Rutherford and Ollerearnshaw,2002; Opportunity Now, 2004). Without this theirimplementation is at the discretion of managers.
Barriers to Manager Implementation of Work-Life Policies/Strategies
Barriers to manager implementation of work-lifepolicies/strategies identified by various studies includelack of formal written policies, resource and operationalfactors, lack of senior management support and asupportive workplace culture, concerns about equityamong staff, traditional management styles and beliefsand a lack of training in how to manage a flexibleworkforce, and lack of accountability throughperformance measures.A study of 806 line managers in 22 UK organizations(Opportunity Now, 2005)found they have not been convinced of the business casefor gender equality/diversity, perceive a lack of supportand commitment by senior management, are not beingmade personally accountable for achieving strategies toachieve these aims, do not feel they are being adequatelytrained to deal with this area, and are working long hours