Home' Charter : 1011 Charter Contents October 2011 I Charter 47
THE SURVEY SAYS
The Ipsos Mackay Report is Australia’s longest running study in social trends.
The results are collated from in-depth feldwork involving men and women from various
socio-economic groups. Released in June 2011, the report explored the current social,
political and economic climate.
Social researcher Rebecca Huntley discovered that people’s main concerns were
working longer hours (and as a result) spending less time with their families and
abandoning the dream of owning their own home.
“Corporate greed and big business practices were a source of concern for some consumers
who feared that with longer working hours and stricter work conditions, they were missing out
on the perks of the Australian lifestyle,” said the report. – Cathy Reitano-Drago.
off and making up any time off on other days.
It simply requires a bit of mutual respect
and trust and to work out an arrangement
that suits the needs of the employee and
also benefts the business. A key part of
the agreement is that it must be conditional
upon the employee reaching agreed KPIs
and other performance targets. That way,
everyone is better off.
Recent research by Professor Phyllis Moen
at the University of Minnesota revealed that
businesses that allow employees to change
their hours and working locations do see a
reduction in staff turnover as employees are
able to better balance their jobs and family life.
FLEXIBILITY FOR MEN
While offering flexible working
arrangements to women to better
handle family life, the uptake by men in
this profession has been limited, if not
culturally discouraged. There has been a
long-held belief among many men in the
accounting sector that long hours are the
key to career advancement and that family
sacrifices are just one of the prices you
have to pay to have a high income in this
industry. Recent research suggests that
this belief may be a myth.
For 70 years, researchers followed the
lives of 268 Harvard business graduates
to determine what were the predictors of
long-term career success and high income.
The study found that the ability to maintain
close personal and family relationships was
the main predictor of future career success.
People who were married for more than 10
years, had children and close relationships
with their children and their own families
were shown to have more successful
careers and had a higher income. This
suggests that the relationship building skills
they develop in interacting with family are
transferable to their business.
A PROFITABLE APPROACH
In terms of return on investment, fexible
work arrangements are a low-cost exercise
that produces a small but long-term return
TIPS FOR EMPLOYERS
To unlock the benefits of flexible
working for a business, the employer
has to take the initiative. Practical
steps that can improve employees’
work life balance include:
> Ask your employees what support
they would like from you to help their
work life balance
> Adopt healthy eating and drinking
practices during working hours and
> Be honest, caring, knowledgeable
and inspirational. These leadership traits
reduce employee work stress and reduce
> Give up the false notion that success is
measured by how busy you are
> Walk your talk. Be the example of good
health and a healthy life balance.
for the employer. But many accounting frms
have been slow in their uptake of another
low-cost business strategy that has been
shown to produce a far greater return for
both employers and employees.
Studies have shown implementation of
this initiative improves staff engagement and
organisational performance and leads to
greater creativity and innovation and greater
talent retention. What was this strategy?
It was an employee health and wellbeing
When you provide training to improve
an employee’s physical and emotional
wellbeing, you are increasing your workforce
fexibility because it increases their capacity
to perform and adapt in a sustainable way.
Many bosses often dismiss the whole
notion of health and wellness being a part
of staff training correctly pointing out that
an employee’s physical and emotional
health is their own personal responsibility.
But, like it or not, your health, your home
and family life and your work all affect
each other. If bosses sit idly by waiting for
employees to improve their physical and
emotional health by themselves, it severely
limits business growth through sluggish
productivity, work stress, errors and poor
How much does poor health and wellbeing
cost your business? After reviewing the
major studies on the effect that poor health
and wellbeing has on work productivity in
Australia and overseas, it was found that
poor employee physical and emotional
health costs Australian business $100 billion
annually. In other words, on average, every
Australian worker loses 24 working days of
lost productivity annually due to low levels of
physical or emotional wellbeing.
COSTS OF POOR WELLBEING
The potential return on investment of a
wellbeing program in terms of reduced
absenteeism, reduced presenteeism (being
at work but not working at your peak due to
illness, injury, fatigue, stress etc) would leave
any accountant reeling at the numbers.
One such program conducted by the
Work Life Balance Foundation was recently
the subject of a pilot study to measure
the effect of their corporate wellbeing
program, which taught practical wellbeing,
stress management and life balance
skills. Conducted on a group of 30 middle
managers earning $85,000 a year, this
training, designed to improve their physical
and emotional wellbeing levels created a
13.7 per cent improvement in health and
energy levels, an 11.9 per cent improvement
in workplace productivity, a 9.2 per cent
increase in home life satisfaction and a
threefold reduction in absenteeism. This
produced total annual productivity savings
of $193,096 ($6436 per participant) and a
return on investment of 2682 per cent.
As a result, a substantial untapped
source of productivity gains can be
accessed within your frm by being more
fexible. Creating more fexible working
conditions gives your employees greater
choice on how to use their time. Creating
more fexible employees helps to improve
their capacity to do more with their
working time, passing on productivity
benefts to your frm. Combining these
two approaches helps your staff create a
healthier balance in their own lives leading
to a healthier balance sheet for the frm.
Dr Paul Lanthois is a chiropractor, speaker and
director of the Work Life Balance Foundation that
helps business create healthier balance sheets
through healthier, balanced employees. He is
the author of the corporate wellbeing book From
Burnout to Balance in Four Weeks. Find out more at
worklifebalancefoundation.com or phone
0409 286 612.
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