book coverIt makes sense to talk about labor as we go into the Labor Day Weekend.  So when we think of the achievements of the labor movement, employee turnover is one of the concerns coming out of the Great Recession and it has to do with rising work-life balance issues.

More than one in four employees (27 percent) at organizations that are not perceived to support work-life balance plan to leave their companies within the next two years, according to new research from Hay Group, a global management consulting firm. That’s compared to only 17 percent of those at companies that support employees in achieving a reasonable balance between work and personal life. For an organization with 10,000 employees, a 10 percentage point reduction in turnover over two years would result in savings of $17.5 million (assuming an average salary of $35,000 and an average replacement cost of 50 percent of salary).

“Organizations across the globe continue to ask their employees to ‘do more with less’, leading to increasing dissatisfaction with work-life balance”

Personally, I have seen this. My husband and I were traveling and stopped to grab a meal between flights. Next to us were two men, a manager and his team member who were flying out to meet with a client on Monday morning. The Manager was counseling his colleague that he must set boundaries or he will be gobbled alive by the company and have no personal life. He was claiming that work ruined his first family and was close to damaging his second marriage.

It stands to reason that a near global recession will have an impact on employee satisfaction. Therefore, I was not surprised to see the statistic that work-life balance concerns across the globe are on the rise. Thirty-nine percent of employees in the Hay Group Insight’s 2012 normative data claim that they did not have a “good balance” between work and personal life, compared to only 32 percent who reported the same in 2011. Concerns also persist about the number of workers available to complete the work required, with the majority of employees (52 percent) reporting that there are not enough people to do the work in their area. How can growth occur under this situation?

“Organizations across the globe continue to ask their employees to ‘do more with less’, leading to increasing dissatisfaction with work-life balance,” said Mark Royal, senior principal at Hay Group Insight. “Tactical solutions like telecommuting options or flexible work schedules will not be enough to successfully address these mounting concerns. Organizations must also focus on long-term solutions to work-life balance issues by helping employees work more productively and identifying opportunities to begin rebuilding their workforces. By providing enabling work environments and additional people resources, organizations can help employees accomplish work tasks as efficiently as possible, leaving more time to attend to personal responsibilities and garnering higher levels of organizational loyalty.”

Hay Group Insight’s research also found that employees who perceived work-life balance support from their organizations reported greater confidence in their companies’ ability to recruit top talent and more satisfaction with their compensation. Specifically, perceived support for work-life balance led to:

  • Increased Confidence in Ability to Recruit Top Talent: When employees were asked about “the ability of the company to attract high quality employees,” 71 percent of those from leading organizations for work-life balance provided ratings of “good” or “very good,” compared to only 45 percent of employees in laggard organizations for work-life balance.
  • Higher Satisfaction with Compensation: Among leading organizations for work-life balance, 58 percent of employees agreed with the statement “I believe I am paid fairly for the work I do.” That’s compared to only 36 percent of employees in organizations ranked in the bottom quartile for work-life balance.

“Employees are working longer hours with more erratic schedules than ever before,” added Royal. “To address work-life balance issues and lessen the workloads of top employees, organizations need to develop fundamental solutions to enable their current workforces and think strategically about which key roles need to be supplemented from the outside. Those that don’t may see their high performing and high potential employees either burn out or walk out.”

Other major findings from Hay Group Insight’s research include:

Central America Ranks Highest in Work-Life Balance

According to Hay Group Insight’s 2012 data, organizations in Central America ranked the highest in work-life balance, with 70 percent of employees saying their organizations support them in achieving a reasonable balance between work and personal life.

North America followed close behind with 65 percent, followed by Eastern Asia (63 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (63 percent) and Southern Asia (62 percent).

European Work-Life Balance Perceptions are Mixed

Employee perceptions of company support for work-life balance are mixed across Europe. In Western Europe, only 44 percent of employees said their organizations support them in achieving a reasonable work-life balance, an 11 percentage point drop from 2011. That’s compared to 56 percent of employees in Eastern Europe who said their organizations support them in achieving work-life balance.

More specifically in Spain, 56 percent of employees said their companies support work-life balance, compared to only 50 percent of employees in Germany and 41 percent in France. The United Kingdom fell in the middle with 51 percent of employees reporting support when it comes to work-life balance.

Africa and the Middle East Report Bleak Perceptions of Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance perceptions ranked the lowest in Africa and the Middle East, Hay Group Insight data found.

In Africa, only 44 percent of employees perceived work-life balance support from their companies. Southern Africa ranked the lowest among the regions with only 43 percent of employees perceiving work-life balance support from their company, a 9 percentage point decrease from 2011.

Similarly, in the Middle East, only 52 percent of employees felt support from their organizations around work-life balance.

For further information

Mark Royal is co-author of the book “The Enemy of Engagement” (AMACOM, 2011), which includes more in-depth information about structuring work environments to avoid workplace frustration and translate employee engagement into improved productivity. It is a good read and I recommend it.

Survey Methodology

Data for this research were drawn from the global employee opinion database compiled by Hay Group Insight. Updated annually, the database is comprised of responses from more than 5 million employees working in over 400 organizations worldwide, representing a broad cross-section of industries and sectors.

Copyright TIGERS Success Series by Dianne Crampton

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About Dianne

Dianne Crampton is the Founder of TIGERS Success Series, Inc. She is a recognized national leader in building successful, quality-focused and cooperative team cultures. She has been published by Barrett Koehler, Pfeiffer (an in print of John Wiley & Sons) and Three Creeks Publishing. She licenses consultants, facilitators, and HR leaders to use TIGERS® proven team development, team culture improvement and change management system within their organization.