HR Balance: A Work/Life Story - A Comparative View

Sometimes, we like simple stories. They are the ones that make everyday work life easier, better, smoother. That is assuming that work can be painful or less enjoyable. If work is 100% great, what is to change? Something has to be improved or added to bring a little pizzazz in worklife. Simple story of HR balance.

© 2014 AR_HRCom-Marc_WorkLife

How About Making Worklife Easier?

In HR we talk about strategy, policies, procedures, compliance, conflict management to name a few. That' s the core of the business, right? Maybe. What about the things that make a work day easier, better?

Take the example of France in attempting to improve work/life balance. Quality of life is important. American workers somehow envy France's working hours, just the same way French workers wish they could finish the day earlier like their German counterparts who average just 1 413 hours/year. That is an average of 27 hours a week!!. Things becoming blurry over time, - both countries being leaders in their own rights -   I have some dilemma in assessing which country puts more focus on quality of life, France or the United States. Correction: I should say "which country wants to see itself and/or being seen as more committed to balancing work and life". Of course, the key is to look at the legal framework rather than company practices.

The following chart is a snapshot at both perspectives: the famous normal 35 vs. 40h/week!

© 2014 AR_HRCom-Marc_WorkLife

The three examples derive from countries favoring free enterprise, with obviously different approaches. Research has shown that happier workers are more productive. The reality is: metrics on work/life balance are nothing new. My early days of our HR team scrunching numbers in HR accounting to validate our initiatives seem still quite fresh.

It is up to any organization to emphasize what they value more: productivity or employees. So, if you can afford it, it is about balancing work and life. Check out this comparison index work/life balance: 8.6 for Germany vs. 6.7 for the USA and 8.2 for France, Denmark hiting 9.8! Mexico scores a 3.0. The question is: can you afford not to consider it?

En Synthèse...

© 2014 AR_HRCom-Marc_WorkLife

Oh lala! Tout le buzz ici sur la France qui réduit l'asservissement au travail! Il y a toujours eu une sorte de compétition entre la France et les USA. On nous a toujours appris qu'il faut se mettre au pas des Américains, et que leur qualité de vie est tellement meilleure parce quíls ont les journ'ées plus courtes. Vous trouvez ça "cool"? Ah! même Le Petit Robert nous le dit...tant de mots Américains sont maintenant dans notre langage de tous les jours. Quant aux USA, derrière les "French jokes" sur la semaine de 35h et les vacances de cinq semaines on sent malgré tout une certaine "envie" de mieux vivre (pensez expression "get a life").

La France, elle, c'est pas comme les USA: elle doit se mettre au diapason de l'Europe. Vous avez eu l'occasion de voir ce tableau? L'Allemagne a une (qualité de vie) work/life balance de 8.6 vs. 6.1 pour les USA et 8.2 pour la France! C'est prouvé, de meilleures conditions de travail poussent à davantage de productivité. Moi, je me souviens encore du temps ou l'on jonglait (oh! non! rien de négatif, là, juste le temps du début du bilan social) les chiffres et coûts pour démontrer que les programmes RH avaient une valeur de retour à l'investissement. Alors, les metrics work/life balance, c'est pas si nouveau que ça!

Alors, oui, l'on doit applaudir tous les efforts pour améliorer la vie des travailleurs et créer cette balance entre vie professionnelle et vie personnelle. Qui peut encore se permettre de ne pas le faire dans une société de plus en plus compétitive?


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