Improving employees’ work-life balance in the construction industry: project alliance case study

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Lingard, HC, Brown, KA, Bradley, L, Bailey, C & Townsend, K 2007, 'Improving employees’ work-life balance in the construction industry: project alliance case study', Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, vol. 133, no. 10, pp. 807-815.

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Work-life conflict has a damaging effect on job satisfaction, organizational commitment, productivity turnover, and absenteeism. On an individual level, work-life conflict is associated with employee burnout, mental health issues, substance abuse, and diminished family functioning. Thus, work-life balance is an important issue to the construction industry, in terms of both organizational effectiveness and occupational health. Long and inflexible work hours are the most consistent predictor of work-life conflict among construction employees, particularly those working on-site or in a project office. There is considerable resistance to the adoption of new ways of scheduling work within the industry. This paper describes the post hoc evaluation of a compressed work week (reducing the length of the working week, but increasing the length of the working day) in a case study project alliance in Queensland, Australia. Quantitative and qualitative data are presented to demonstrate the beneficial impact of the initiative on employees’ work-life balance. The evaluation provides prima facie evidence that alternative work schedules can improve construction employees’ work-life balance, creating benefits for construction employees and organizations. The paper concludes that project alliances provide an ideal environment in which work-life balance initiatives can help to create high-performance work systems in the construction sector.