When the Balance isn't easy: A case study exploring the complications with work/life balance initiative in the Australian construction industry

Townsend, Keith J., Bailey, Caroline, Brown, Kerry A., Bradley, Lisa M., & Lingard, Helen C. (2006) When the Balance isn't easy: A case study exploring the complications with work/life balance initiative in the Australian construction industry. In De Cieri, H., Bardoel, A., Barrett, R., Buttigeig, D., Rainnie, A., & McLean, K. (Eds.) Socially Responsive, Socially Responsible Approaches to Employment and Work, Proceedings of the ACREW conference, July 1-4, Prato, Italy.

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Studies of work and life balance often concentrate on the ways in which employees may require and use flexible work practices to cope with the demands of their other ‘non-work’ activities and responsibilities. This paper adds to our knowledge in this arena through presenting a case study of work-life balance. This case study focuses on managerial and employee issues in implementing organisational work life balance initiatives within the construction industry in Australia. For this case study, the workplace was an ‘alliance’ project, of four collaborating companies undertaking a large infrastructure project. The project management group determined that work-life balance was an important issue within the industry and consequently implemented a five-day instead of the industry standard six-day working week as a balance initiative for the workforce.

A range of factors contributed to this five-day week initiative reverting to the original work schedule of a six-day working week. This paper explores these issues and analyses the competing priorities and demands of management in endeavouring to develop alternate strategies to maintain a positive work and life balance for employees. The analysis of this case suggests that management and employees were dedicated to improving work-life balance; however, a range of externalities resulted in not all initiatives being successful. Nevertheless, within the constrained choices, the management group instigated alternate initiatives.

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ID Code: 5293
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Work, Life Balance, Construction, Industrial Relations
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Industrial Relations (150306)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 19 Oct 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:20

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