A VIEW ON HOW EUROPEANS MANAGE TO COPE WITH WORK AND PRIVATE LIFE – REPORT TO UNI 2010
Europe is facing both an increasing global competition and a huge demographic shift. The European work force needs to improve its efficiency and skills in order to face up to the competition, whilst its population is aging and there are fewer and fewer people having to support the growing numbers of pensioners. Also people enter into the labour market later and later, families are formed at a higher age and there are fewer children per family.
All this puts extra pressure on people in the workplace. We want to do a good job, but at the same time be able to lead a good life. But how can we cope with this duality? How can we achieve work-life management?
People who are happy with their lives and manage to strike a good work-life balance, seem to be happy in three areas, which we will classify into ‘rooms’: the ‘Inner Room’ – the personal sphere, ‘the Living Room’ – the private sphere, and ‘the Work Room’ – the professional sphere. The ‘Inner Room’ is about being happy about oneself, feeling confident about the future and having the ability to cope with life. The ‘Living Room’ is about having a trustful and intimate relationship with somebody on whom one can lean and get support from. Finally, the ‘Work Room’, is about having influence, receiving affirmation and feeling commitment at work, as well as having trust in one’s superior.
Employers could facilitate favourable conditions in at least two of these three rooms by creating an open and trusting culture, by giving managers the time to relate to and give feedback to employees and by allowing time for reflection and thought, both at work and off work. Employers could also promote exercise and health among their employees, which would help people both feel and perform better.
Having ambition in life is a good thing, especially if one manages to fulfil them. We have found four types of ambitious people: the high achievers, who are able to achieve their high ambitions in all aspects of life; the overstretched, who have high ambitions but fail to realize them; the resigned, who do not even fulfil low ambitions; and finally the ‘campers’, who are happy just to fulfil their low ambitions. The overstretched and the resigned have great difficulties managing their work-life balance. They feel inadequate in their work as well as in their private lives. These are people who need support in order to cope with their situations.
The high achievers and the campers seem to manage their work-life balance well. There are of course measures and strategies that can be employed at policy level all over Europe to improve work-life management. These include making working hours more flexible and introducing new ways of working. This means that people should have the possibility to decide where and when they wish to work and that there will be technical systems (IT, telephone, etc.) in place to support them. These policies need to be introduced at EU, as well as national and organizational levels.
Other strategies include more care facilities for young children and dependent persons, longer parental leave with higher pay, etc., and making it compulsory for companies to deploy measures aimed at helping their employees to achieve a better work-life balance. The importance of these measures differs from one country to the next throughout Europe.
Gender equality is of great importance. Men and women need to share burdens of work and home life. They need to support each other to cope with the pressures of modern life.
Source – www.uniglobalunion.org and UNI Professionals & Managers
You can view the full report by clicking on this link.