By Andrew Chartres, Senior Manager at Parbery Consulting
Work is hard. It can pull and push us in opposing directions, often puts pressure on us to do things we may not want to, and can have adverse effects on other aspects of our lives.
Despite the vast array of academic literature on the topic, it is hard to find useful guidance on an integrative model of work‐family life. One point that many commentators seem to miss is the importance of better understanding the psychological processes underlying work‐family enrichment and identifying ways in which such enrichment can be increased. The fulfillment of one’s basic life-needs (competence, autonomy, and integration) have massive, direct impacts on some people, and can indirectly influence work‐family enrichment and quality of life.
I would like to offer a few practical suggestions for both individuals and organisations to consider in approaching the issue of work-family life which include:
- the need (for both employers and employees) to look beyond work‐family conflict and more towards work‐family enrichment
- the benefits of incorporating basic psychological need-fulfilment into employees’ developmental goals
- the difference it can make if employees feel comfortable seeking or utilising psychological assistance/ benefits to buffer any hardships within a role when trying to balance work and family.
I would further suggest that companies employ family and community focused approaches wherever possible, and that these approaches be applied innovatively across all spheres of business. Allowing partners and kids easy access to workplace happenings is a great place to start. Workplace services such as crèche and day care, or offers such as partner specials at work events, also help to break down that arbitrary barrier between ‘life’ and ‘work’.
To me, this topic is particularly relevant for two reasons: the first is that since joining Parbery I have seen some of this culture in action. Family-oriented activities, open invitations to all events, and the building of a broader ‘culture of family’ are all ingrained in Parbery.
The second is that I have just had my first child. She is lovely and I received generous paternal leave from my employers. I am now back at work and where I could once work late and then get home, help with a few things then relax or go to the pool, I now have a vast range of duties added to my day. On my return home, I am now handed a screaming baby and no matter what I try, it’s impossible to get anything done while holding her. I would go so far as to say that she is only content when I am in significant discomfort.
Taking into account this new addition to my family, it’s now harder than ever to get the work-family balance right. Fortunately, my team understand. My boss even visited us in hospital. The team often ask after my newborn daughter and they also sent a beautiful hamper to the three of us. Its things like that which make a difference to work-life balance and contribute towards work-family enrichment.