WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Work-life balance policies and initiatives are crucial for developing a diverse public sector workforce and increasing women’s employment rates. Offering flexibility to men and women, mothers and fathers, allows for better family decisions. It also promotes better mental and physical health. Work-life balance policies can improve the public sector’s recruitment and retention efforts, and also contribute to higher productivity, leading to better services for citizens. Conversely, work-life conflicts can lead to absenteeism and stress, with excessive direct costs for the organisation.
Nonetheless, taking advantage of work-life balance policies is often seen as detrimental to employees’ career aspirations. Consequently, arrangements such as job sharing, part-time work, reduced hours or term-time work, and sick leave to care for a family member, are mostly used by low-paid, predominantly female workers in clerical and lower administrative jobs and are very rarely used at the top level of public sector organisations. A deep cultural change is needed to enhance the use of work-life balance measures by men and senior managers.