Towards true work life integration

A new book outlines how employers can better ensure that they meet the needs of the modern workforce.

Manager seeking Work life balance

 

Employers should consider employing work life integration managers or even setting up work life integration departments to address the fact that these are now key issues and will continue to grow in importance, according to a new book.

The book, One Life, by the Belgium-based WorkLife HUB organisation, is aimed at HR managers and employers generally. It says work life integration needs to be lifted to a more strategic organisational level given there are so many drivers for it which underline its growing importance. These include growing caring responsibilities among employees as the population ages, the need to cut down on commuting for environmental reasons and the rise of technology.

The book argues for the term integration rather than work life balance since it says work and life are not mutually exclusive.  Policies linked to integration include parental leave, childcare support and flexible working.

It says there is a lot of writing on work life integration, but it is mostly aimed at individuals, providing coaching around issues such as time management. The book aims to address the gap between the individual and their employer.

It describes two main tools employers can use to help employees achieve work life integration. The first is the Work Life Integration Framework, which the book describes as the road map for work life integration. It says the Framework links different work life integration initiatives under a strategic umbrella. It encompasses work design, work life programmes and organisational culture and affects all departments and a range of stakeholders who all need to be brought on board.

The other tool is the Work Life Integration Maturity Model, described as the GPS of work life integration. The aim of the Maturity Model is to bring everyone to the same level with regard to mindset regarding work life integration. It encompasses trust, autonomy and transparency.

Visionary

The book describes the route from ad hoc work life policies to mastery of work life integration, culminating in a visionary approach taken by leaders in the field where employers move from standardised work life policies towards individualised solutions which work for different parts of the organisation. The book says copy and paste approaches don’t work and that each employer has to profile its own workforce and ask employees, through surveys and focus groups, what is important to them and what would work in their department.

The book, which also talks about the possibility for employers to appoint Work Life Integration Champions, underlines the importance of job design and talks about how low intensity activities need to be built in to allow employees time for creative thinking.

The tools it describes are part of a way to embed work life integration in organisations, to overcome tensions and measure success.

The book, which includes a detailed case study of adidas, ends with a rallying call to employers: “A new dawn has broken on the world of work. In this new era, people want to experience freedom to be who they are, work in organisations where they can express their true selves and reach their highest potential. They also want to have the time to pursue their passion and spend it with their friends and family in a meaningful way.”

It says: “Work-life integration management can, and will make this happen…Setting yourself a higher standard for your employees’ wellbeing starts here; with the decision to appoint a work-life manager. We envisage a future in which a work-life manager or department won’t be the exception but the norm, and this group of dedicated and driven professionals will be supported by a strong network where knowledge and innovation will be shared generously. Wouldn’t you want to be part of this?”

More information: http://worklifehub.com/book



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