Employee preferences for work-life benefits in a large New Zealand construction company

Emily Morrison, Derek Thurnell


Abstract

The construction industry is a challenging environment in which to work, with job characteristics that are linked to work-life conflict, and it is important for its future sustainability that initiatives to support employee work-life balance are undertaken. 121 head office and site-based employees within a large New Zealand construction company rated their preferences for work-life benefits, and the results were compared with those of a similar previous (Australian) study. The most preferred work-life benefit factor (as for the previous Australian study) was found to be ‘wellness and personal development’. Results suggest that company provision of a wide variety of work-life benefits from which employees can choose during different stages in their life and career is ideal. Qualitative results suggest some work-life conflict associated with working long hours and weekend work exists. It is proposed that to attract and retain valuable employees, the New Zealand construction industry must provide useful work-life benefits, reasonable working hours, and supportive workplace cultures in line with such initiatives. 

Keywords

Work-life balance, New Zealand, construction company, Human resource management

Full Text

PDF

References

Bardoel, E.A., Moss, S.A., Smyrnios, K. and Tharenou, P. (1999) 'Employee characteristics associated with the provision of work-family policies and programs', International Journal of Manpower, 20, 563-576, http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/01437729910302741

Becker, B. and Huselid, M. (1998) 'High performance work systems and firm performance: a synthesis of research and managerial implications', Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 16, 53-101

Brough, P., Holt, J., Bauld, R., Biggs, A. and Ryan, C. (2008) 'The ability of work-life balance policies to influence key social/organisational issues', Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 46, 261-274, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1038411108095758

Brown, K.A., Ling, S., Bradley, L.M., Lingard, H. and Townsend, K. J. (2009) 'What about me? Avoiding fatigue and gaining personal time in the work to leisure transition in work-life balance initiatives', In proceedings of the 23rd Annual Australia and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference (ANZAM 2009), 1-4 December, Melbourne

Casper, W.J. and Buffardi, L.C. (2004) 'Work-life benefits and job pursuit intentions: the role of anticipated organizational support', Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65, 391-410, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2003.09.003

Dallimore, E. and Mickel, A. (2006) 'Quality of life: obstacles, advice, and employer assistance', Human Relations, 59 (1), 61-103, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0018726706062759

De Bruin, A. and Dupuis, A. (2004) 'Work-life balance?: insights from non-standard work', New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations, 29 (1), 21-37

De Cieri, H., Holmes, B., Abbott, J. and Pettit, T. (2005) 'Achievements and challenges for work/life balance strategies in Australian organizations', International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16 (1), 90-103, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0958519042000295966

Department of Labour (2006) Work-life balance in New Zealand: A snapshot of employee and employer attitudes and experiences, viewed 20th May 2011 http://www.dol.govt.nz/worklife/research/work-life-balance.asp

Eaton, S.C. (2003) 'If you can use them: flexibility policies, organizational commitment and perceived performance', Industrial Relations, 42, 145-167

Eby, L.T., Casper, W.J., Lockwood, A., Bordeaux, C. and Brinley, A. (2005) 'Work and family research in IO/OB: content analysis and review of the literature (1980–2002)', Journal of Vocational Behavior, 66, 124–197, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2003.11.003

Equal Employment Opportunities Trust (2008) EEO Trust work-life survey, viewed 13th May 2011 http://www.eeotrust.org.nz/research/worklife.cfm

Families and Work Institute (2008) 2008 National study of the changing workforce, viewed 18th March 2011 www.familiesandwork.org/site/work/workforce/2008nscw.html

Forsyth, S. and Polzer-Debruyne, A. (2007) 'The organisational pay-offs for perceived work-life balance support', Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 45, 113-123, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1038411107073610

Francis, V. (2004) 'Supportive organisational cultures and their effect on male engineers', The Australian Journal of Construction Economics and Building, 4, 1-9

Frone, M.R. (2003) 'Work-family balance', in Quick, J.C. and Tetrick, L.E. (eds), Handbook of Occupational Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., 143-162

Halpern, D. F. (2005) 'How time-flexible work policies can reduce stress, improve health, and save money', Stress & Health: Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress, 21, 157-168, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/smi.1049

Kossek, E.E., Lewis, S. and Hammer, L.B. (2010) 'Work-life initiatives and organizational change: overcoming mixed messages to move from the margin to the mainstream', Human Relations, 63 (1), 3-19, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0018726709352385

Lewis, S., Gambles, R. and Rapoport, R. (2007) 'The constraints of a 'work-life balance' approach: an international perspective', International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18, 360-373, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09585190601165577

Lingard, H. (2008) 'An exploration of the adaptive strategies of working families in the Australian construction industry', Engineering Construction & Architectural Management, 15, 562-579, http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09699980810916997

Lingard, H. and Francis, V. (2004a) A Quantitative Study of Work-life Experiences in the Public and Private Sectors of the Australian Construction Industry, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane

Lingard, H. and Francis, V. (2004b) 'The work-life experiences of office and site-based employees in the Australian construction industry', Construction Management & Economics, 22, 991-1002

Lingard, H. and Francis, V. (2005) 'The decline of the 'traditional' family: work-life benefits as a means of promoting a diverse workforce in the construction industry of Australia', Construction Management & Economics, 23, 1045-1057, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01446190500394308

Lingard, H. and Francis, V. (2009) Managing Work-Life Balance in Construction, Spon, London

Lingard, H., Francis, V. and Turner, M. (2010a) 'Work-family enrichment in the Australian construction industry: implications for job design', Construction Management & Economics, 28, 467 –480

Lingard, H., Francis, V. and Turner, M. (2010b) 'The rhythms of project life: a longitudinal analysis of work hours and work-life experiences in construction', Construction Management & Economics, 28, 1085 –1098

Lingard, H. And Sublet, A. (2002) 'The impact of job and organizational demands on marital or relationship satisfaction and conflict among Australian civil engineers', Construction Management & Economics, 20, 507 –521

Lingard, H. C., Townsend, K., Bradley, L. and Brown, K. (2008) 'Alternative work schedule interventions in the Australian construction industry: a comparative case study analysis', Construction Management & Economics, 26, 1101-1112, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01446190802389402

Loosemore, M., Dainty, A. and Lingard, H. (2003) Human Resource Management in Construction Projects, Spon, London

MacKenzie, S. (2008) A Close Look at Work and Life Balance/Wellbeing in the Victorian Construction Sector, Report for the Building Industry Consultative Council, Reinventing the Image Steering Committee, Equilibrium Work-life Solutions, Melbourne

McPherson, M. and Reed, P. (2007) 'Work-life balance in the New Zealand context', in Waring, M. and Fouche, C. (eds.) Managing Mayhem: Work-life Balance in New Zealand, Dunmore Publishing, Wellington

New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development (2006) Work-life Balance Report: How Member Companies are Addressing Work-life Balance, Viewed 17th December 2010 http://www.dol.govt.nz/worklife/research/work-life-balance.asp

Noon, M. and Blyton, P. (2007) The Realities of Work, Palgrave, Basingstoke

Smith, J. and Gardner, D. (2007) 'Factors affecting employee use of work-life balance initiatives', New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 36 (1), 3-12

Thornthwaite, L. (2004) 'Working time and work-family balance: a review of employees' preferences', Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 42 (2), 166-184, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1038411104045360

Townsend, K., Bailey, C., Brown, K., Bradley, L. and Lingard, H. (2006) 'How would employees 'construct' a balance between work and non-work life? Work-life balance in the construction industry', in Procs 14th International Employment Relations Association Conference, Hong Kong. Viewed 7th May 2011 http://eprints.qut.edu.au/9137/

Turner, M., Lingard, H. and Francis, V. (2009) 'Work-life balance: an exploratory study of supports and barriers in a construction project', International Journal of Managing Projects in Business 2 (1), 94 – 111

Yasbek, P. (2004). The Business Case For Firm-level Work-life Balance Policies: a Review of the Literature, Report for the Department of Labour. Viewed 17th November 2010 http://www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/FirmLevelWLB.pdf

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM