The Case for Family-Friendly Work Practices in the Australian Construction Industry

Valerie Francis, Helen Lingard

Abstract


Although significant changes at the social, demographic, technological and workforce levelshave transformed the relationship between family and work, these changes have notbeen reflected in the employment practices of many construction companies. Many of thejob and organisational factors found to be negatively associated with family functioning arepertinent to construction professionals. Staff are expected to work long hours in demandingroles and this, combined with job insecurity and frequent relocation, means that familylife and individual well-being can be compromised. A growing body of research has foundthat the implementation of family-friendly work policies and practices can lead to greaterproductivity, lower attrition rates and higher morale in the workplace. In addition providinga work environment that is supportive of workers' family roles can help to alleviate workrelatedmental health problems.This paper outlines the changing demographic trends and societal attitudes that are makingindividuals and organisations question current work cultures and structures. Optionsfor making the construction industry a more family-friendly work environment are considered.All professionals, regardless of their age, gender and family responsibilities, canbenefit from these initiatives. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of theseissues for construction companies and future research work.

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