I am doing some research and came across this interesting study published in the Journal of Management and Organization called, "Work–life balance or work–life alignment? A test of the important os work-life balance for employee engagement and intention to stay in organizations." Louise Parkes and Peter Langford assessed 16,000 Australian employees. Here is a brief snippet from the abstract:
"We also explored how individual and organisational variables were related to work–life balance aiding further development of theory integrating work with other aspects of life. Results showed that of 28 organisational climate factors, work–life balance was least related to employee engagement and intention to stay with an organisation."
Fascinating results that might seem a bit counterintuitive. The factors that ranked toward the top of the list (out of the 28) included:
- Change an innovation
- Mission and values
- Rewards and recognition
- Organization objectives
- Career opportunities
- Customer Satisfaction
By the way, also near the bottom of the list along with work/life balance was teamwork, facilities, and talent. All of these factors are positive and important and help improve the workplace, but it is interesting to contemplate the relative differences in impact to engagement and juxtapose these findings with our assumptions and practices.
Do these results surprise you? I am not surprised that work/life balance ranked near the bottom because very few highly engaged people I talk to seem to be focused on this (less engaged employees seem more interested in this). I am also not surprised by the relative importance of change and innovation and find that most of my clients are struggling with the pace of change combined with a need for greater innovation.
Another quote from the study that gives us a good bottom-line perspective:
"By comparison, aspects of the organisation such as effective change management and belief in the mission and values of the organisation were strongly correlated with engagement."
You can get the entire paper here (there is a fee). How could you use this information to start a fresh conversation about how to best engage and retain your talent?