Work life balance still a struggle for NZ

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Over the past few years, many employees have increased their efforts to support staff wellbeing and encourage work life balance – however, one new survey suggests there’s still a long way to go.

According to the New Zealand Diversity Survey, some 66 per cent of employers said work-life balance was an issue in their organisation, 62 per cent said stress was a challenge and 50 per cent said they had concerns about the mental health of employees or colleagues.

Unfortunately, the issue is nothing new and workplace wellness has been consistently identified as the single most important diversity issue for businesses since the survey was initiated in 2013.

However, Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie – chief executive of Diversity Works New Zealand – says it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, the most recent survey shows organisations across the country are taking meaningful steps to address the problem.

“One example of this is flexible work practices, which are becoming the norm, not the exception, in many of the organisations we work with,” she says.

The survey revealed that 76 per cent of organisations offer flexible work times, 64 per cent have part-time roles or roles with reduced hours, 62 per cent allow team members to work remotely and 59 per cent offer staff family-friendly working arrangements.

Lion, winner of the Work Life Balance category at last year’s Diversity Awards NZ, is one of the companies reaping the benefits of a flexible culture.

The firm’s LionFlex initiative encourages leaders to “start with a yes” when it comes to flexible work and employee requests are only denied when there is a solid business reason to do so.

“That has been the single most important thing that we’ve done in our flex journey because it’s totally changed the conversation and it’s changed the mind-set of our leaders towards flex,” said Robin Davies, director of people and culture at the beverage giant.

 “Starting with a yes, unless there is a significant business reason not to, is a whole lot different than starting from a no, unless there’s a reason to make it work,” she explains.

Now, the company has banished any stigma and destroyed the perception that flexible working arrangements are only for parents – around 42 per cent of its people now work flexibly.

GHD is another New Zealand business which is rejecting “one-size fits all” strategies – now, the company allows its people to complete their required hours anytime between 6.30am and 7pm.

Other benefits include the option to buy an extra two weeks’ leave a year, work remotely or work part-time, opting for fewer days or shorter hours.

“Businesses are realising that a happier, healthier workforce means employees are more engaged, more productive, and better able to cope with the fast pace of change organisations require,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie. “Ultimately this has a positive effect on profitability.”

Related stories:
HR urged to do more for older workers
Law firm wins diversity award

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