When worlds collide: New perspectives on managing work-life conflict

When worlds collide: New perspectives on managing work-life conflict

In 2020 every company was forced to consider work-from-home options, and for those where it was possible employers grappled with practical, safety and performance consequences. Employees saw work-life boundaries dissolve and struggled to manage competing needs where work and life happened within the same four walls. In this presentation Dr Sarah Cotton and Rachael Palmer present findings about the psychosocial hazard of work-life conflict as considered in two applied research projects funded by WorkSafe Victoria’s WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund.

The home-work interface is a key psychosocial hazard that has profound implications for employee wellbeing and business performance . The causes and implications of conflict between the areas of work and home are very much impacted by life stage. For example, during COVID-19 lockdowns parents found themselves supervising their children’s learning at home in addition to many other work and home responsibilities. Older workers, on the other hand, found themselves unable to work in order to protect their health, or delaying retirement in order to replenish their lost savings.

While the specifics are very much impacted by life stage the underlying themes are consistent. The presenters will outline their findings around three practical and effective types of interventions that an organisation can invest in:

  • Organisational systems: organisations need to implement systems and policies that support employee entitlements around flexible work and develop a culture where these are proactively implemented.
  • Manager capability: managers directly impact employees’ day-to-day work experience through the workload assigned to individuals, the expectations they set, and the support and resources provided.
  • Individual capability: individuals can learn techniques to increase their resilience and ability to manage the home-work interface more effectively, greater awareness about life-stages and planning for transitions can promote and protect mental health.