A work-life balance definition and associated principles have been developed to provide a common framework within which individual agencies can develop their own policies. They alert current and prospective public servants to the reasonable expectations they can have of their work environment.
Work-life balance is about helping staff to maintain healthy, rewarding lifestyles that will in turn lead to improvements in productivity and performance. Strategies to achieve balance will differ between organisations, partly depending on their function, the types of work roles they offer, and their workforce profile.
Work-life balance definition for the State Services
Work-life balance is about the interaction between paid work and other activities, including unpaid work in families and the community, leisure, and personal development.
Work-life balance is about creating a productive work culture where the potential for tensions between work and other parts of people's lives is minimised. This means having appropriate employment provisions in place, and organisational systems and supportive management underpinning them.
Work-life balance for any one person is having the 'right' combination of participation in paid work (defined by hours and working conditions), and other aspects of their lives. This combination will not remain fixed, but may change over time.
Implementing work-life balance effectively across an organisation is a strategic change management process, and involves culture change. However, the issue is congruent with many organisations' stated values and provides a tangible outlet for modelling those values internally.
What provides a sense of balance varies from person to person. It is not a simple formula of time spent at work, compared with time spent on the rest of their lives. Hours worked is an important factor, but may not be the principal one. For some, it is an active choice to work longer hours at some phases of the year, or stages of their careers. The sense of having access to work-life balance is highly related to a sense of control, choice and being able to match work patterns to one's own lifestyle and life stage. The meaning of work-life balance changes for people at different stages throughout life, often in response to milestones during the course of life5.