Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Historical Changes
2.1. Economical and Social Change
2.2. Social Change Considering the Role of Women

3. Reasons for an Unbalanced Life
3.1. External Reasons
3.1.1. Demanding Job
3.1.2. Pressure from Family, Society and Media
3.1.3. Time Management and Establishing Priorities
3.2. Internal Reasons
3.2.1. Success Means Career
3.2.2. Inner Safety Means Financial Safety
3.2.3. Mistaken Beliefs

4. Affects of Imbalance

5. Possible Arrangements to Implement Work-Life-Balance
5.1. Balance in Work and Carrier
5.1.1. Flex time
5.1.2. Part - time
5.1.3. Job sharing
5.1.4. Working at home
5.1.5. Sabbatical
5.2. Balance in Private Life
5.2.1. Child Care
5.2.2. Health Care

6. How it Actually Works in Companies

7. Conclusion / Summary

List of Figures

Figure 1: The Elements of Life

Figure 2: Benefits Employees concider most important

1. Introduction

Due to historical, economical and social changes the roles of work and workplace have changed. This assignment deals with the Work-Life-Balance of working women and men. The importance of this topic raised in the last few years and the need for flexible working models and for example the support of child care is getting more and more important. But how can Work-Life-Balance be defined and what is the importance of it? There is no agreed definition of Work-life Balance. “Work-life Balance is about people having a measure of control over when, where and how they work. It is achieved when an individual's right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society”1. Only if the relation between life and work, the triangle of time, money and health is balanced, humans can meet the demands of the age of communication with energy and love of life. Also it does not mean an equal balance in units of time. Related terms include "lifestyle balance" and "life balance". There is no perfect, one-size fits all balance one should be striving for. The best Work-Life-Balance is different for everyone because of different priorities and different lives. For some people it means to balance their caring responsibilities for children with work, while others want more time for themselves and for their leisure activities. Trying to schedule an equal number of hours for each work and personal activities is usually unrewarding and unrealistic because “life is and should be more fluid than that”2 Summarized can be said that Work-Life-Balance can be defined as a satisfactory level of involvement or ‘fit’ between the multiple roles in a person’s life.3

2. Historical Changes

Many employers are nowadays aware of the need to support employees in their attempt to successfully reconcile work and private life commitments. This change has become necessary due to economic and social changes.4

2.1. Economical and Social Change

For years there have been many changes in the economy, in public institutions as well as regarding administrations. The stress factor increases continuously for managers and also for the staff. This fast development creates an acceleration of the whole business world which is attributed to an increasingly higher pressure to perform and pressure of change. Due to that people are changing their settings and lifestyle in every sphere. The result of it is that our society authors new ways of life and lifestyles in shorter and shorter time intervals. Another important alteration factor is globalization. It is not to be detained and became a decisive part of the people. Nowadays bigger and also smaller companies are working and acting internationally.5

2.2. Social Change Considering the Role of Women

"Germany is working for global gender equality" Federal Minister Steinmeier said.6 For centuries, a woman's role in the German society has been clarified and paraphrased by the three "K" words: Kinder (children), Kirche (church), and Küche (kitchen) and they are still considered to be taking care of the children and the household. But the number of women entering the working life increases constantly. If women want to move on in their career, this often happens at the disadvantage of their family life. “Male dominated jobs, including those higher positions, assume that employee’s first priority is the workplace and that a significant external support system facilitates other responsibilities”.7 Also it is shown that female employees start a family later and have fewer or no children at all. This happens because of the fact that more mothers have been entering the job market in recent, but at the same time, the proportion of mothers among working women has been declining even faster. An interesting quotation about that topic comes from Michelle Obama and explains in a certain way why women think longer about getting children or not: “So when I was at work during these times, I always felt like I was shortchanging my girls, But then when I was at home, I was worried that I was letting people at work down. And with that kind of anxiety comes a lot of additional stress and a whole lot of guilt.”8

Even if women assert themselves more and more in the leadership positions, there are still hardly adjustments in the salary differences.9 Men earn 23.2 percent more than women. Compared to the other EU states, Germany is underperforming as well as Austria. In 2009 federal Minister Steinmeier remarked at the International Women’s Day, that “there is a lot of work to do to ensure that men and women truly have equal opportunities. We cannot be satisfied with the status quo in Germany: in particular, we need to ensure that men and women’s earnings finally converge!”10

3. Reasons for an Unbalanced Life

Nearly everyone knows how it feels to come home from a long day full of hectic work. Somehow, you just want to relax, but knowing that doing sports would be better for one’s physic. What will you do? And why do you feel so empty and worn out after your job?

Talking about possible reasons for an unbalanced life it has to be distinguish between external and internal ones.

3.1. External Reasons

External reasons are materiel, physical or emotional demands, the most important are:

3.1.1. Demanding Job

Wanting to do a good job, it nowadays becomes normal to have a 16-hours day. If those 16 hours are subtracted from the 24 hours day, only eight hours rest. In this time one has to sleep (six to eight hours), eat, manage the household and spend time with the partner, family and friends and having a balanced life becomes impossible. But as it has become the norm that executives and self-employed persons have to work more than eight hours, those cultural stereotypes support and promote long working days, help to make one’s life unbalanced and lead employees to maybe pay a high price when dealing with illness, stress or burnout.

3.1.2. Pressure from Family, Society and Media

The pressure to be successful comes from all directions: media, family, friends and colleagues. But success should never be judged by others, everybody assess it on their own way and so everybody has to search for the success with their own imagines and after these one can realize the success.

3.1.3. Time Management and Establishing Priorities

To work effectively one has to determine priorities having a time management and delegate tasks and responsibilities. But the problem is that many people are not able to manage their life without any help.

3.2. Internal Reasons

Internal reasons for an unbalanced life can be found in our thinking, feeling and perception. Important internal reasons are:

3.2.1. Success Means Career

Our inner model of success tells us that success is equal to career. In this way we allow somebody to intervene in our life and to decide about our priorities and expectations. We know about a lot of examples for success: money, houses, cars, vacations or social commitment. But if we take the success model from another person, it cannot go well with our talents, abilities and resources. This is why people have to learn about their own ideas of success to see how well they do their job.

3.2.2. Inner Safety Means Financial Safety

It is a human necessity to feel safe. Everyone wants to cover oneself emotionally, physically and financially. But there is a permanent insecurity and fear not to earn enough money. People have to work more and longer to pay growing expenses and those long working times result in an unbalanced lifestyle.

3.2.3. Mistaken Beliefs

People’s dreams include a successful career, a fortunate marriage, a big house, luxury cars, vacations, nice children, attractive friends, a trained body and much more. But mostly this is not the reality. Financial restriction often goes with it. The attempt to do and to have everything makes people tired. It makes no difference how productive one is, people always have to run after something and become disappointed.11


1 The Work Foundation: Definition. www.theworkfoundation.com/difference/e4wlb/definition.aspx

2 H. B. School Press; 2000: Harvard Business Review on the Work and Life Balance. 7th edition, Cambridge

3 Hudson Global Resources; 2005: The case for work/life balance. Closing the gap between policy and practice, Sydney

4 Matschke, J.; 2008: An analysis of the impact of organizational support and personality traits on academic work-life Balance (Bachelor Thesis), Wiesbaden

5 Trautmann, L.; 2010: Familienfreundliche Personalpolitik in Unternehmen: Möglichkeiten und Grenzen zur Gewinnung und Bindung von Mitarbeitern, Norderstedt

6 Auswärtiges Amt: Steinmeier on International Women's Day: Germany is working for global gender equality. www.auswaertiges-amt.de/EN/Infoservice/Presse/Meldungen/2009/090308-Weltfrauentag.html

7 Matschke, J.; 2008: An analysis of the impact of organizational support and personality traits on academic work-life Balance (Bachelor Thesis)

8 Michelle Obama: First Lady Michelle Obama promotes Work/Life Balance, www.workforce.com/section/news/article/first-lady-michelle-obama-promotes-work-life-balance.php

9 Jobbanet: Männer sollten höhere Löhne haben. http://www.jobbanet.eu/maenner-sollten-hoehere- loehne-haben

10 Auswärtiges Amt: Steinmeier on International Women's Day: Germany is working for global gender equality. www.auswaertiges-amt.de/EN/Infoservice/Presse/Meldungen/2009/090308-Weltfrauentag.html

11 Birla, M. & Miller Marshall, C.; 1999: Erfolgreich arbeiten, glücklich leben : in vier Schritten zum Lebensgleichgewicht, Landsberg am Lech


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Title: Work-Life-Balance