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Banking 15 Dec 2014

The challenges ahead for work–life balance in the new economy

Balancing work and family life must be addressed holistically as a challenge that seeks to accomplish a complicated social goal.

Many HR policies are defined by the social accomplishments that have been achieved in labor rights, which have included the necessary and complex concept of balancing work and family and life.

However, this is not simply a social necessity but a tool that works in favor of motivating and increasing the performance of teams in the workplace and, therefore, may represent an improvement at employee-employer level.

The importance of the family dimension

Family represents the core of every society and balancing work and family life must be driven by national legislation as a natural step toward modernity, which continues to be a challenge that has not been tackled head on.

As a result, the age of motherhood/fatherhood is being increasingly delayed and the number of births in our country are falling, reversing the population pyramid.

Nor can we forget that changes related to the role of gender are lagging behind and, although it is increasingly necessary for both parents to work, this will also make it very difficult to meet family needs.

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There is clearly too big a barrier between the work and family dimension, which decisively influences the professional development of workers, who decide to delay having children to prevent hindering their careers.

In many cases this represents a feeling of frustration with a life goal, which results in a disincentive that will become evident sooner or later.

  • Work–life balance paves the way to self-realization for employees.
  • It improves their sense of belonging to the organization.
  • It increases the safety of workers and their concentration.
  • It makes it possible to connect personal and professional goals.
  • It improves motivation and individual performance.
  • It reduces the worker’s stress levels.
  • It incorporates social values into companies.

Society is demanding work–life balance and companies should too, because a worker who is well-developed in his personal life is a happier and more productive person, who can better connect his career goals with his family situation and will not perceive the world and work as remote dimensions, but as different parts of the same reality.

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A challenge full of nuances

The economy of the people is an economy that does not force us to give up an important part of ourselves, but it is a difficult challenge to achieve in practice, so it must be defined with an equally complex word: balance.

Work-life balance is finding a reasonable balance between work and personal life, going from defining ourselves as workers to defining ourselves as people who work.

Something that may be simple on paper, but becomes extremely complicated in practice.

In other words, allowing more than one facet of our lives to develop at the same time is one of our outstanding issues, but it is not something that only companies or laws need to change but that encompasses an attitude that society must also pursue as a whole.

Currently work-life balance is conceived as a series of rights and permissions in light of very specific exceptional circumstances, but it is not defined as a permanent reality that must be part of a modern society.

We need a social contract that protects us. Yet how do we begin to build this new right? How can we achieve the balance?

  • It is necessary to adjust work schedules and the length of working days.
  • We must be aware of the complex social and family reality.
  • Companies must give way to what should be a social right.
  • Social benefits supporting parenting need to be increased.

We cannot only look for the answers in the workplace but need suggestions from the public sphere and a conscious sociocultural context of how important it is to achieve work-life balance.

We should not be forced to prioritize between family and work, but we should actually be forced to find that balance that currently escapes us.

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