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Now is the time to discuss work-life balance

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Wed, 19 Aug 2020
Now is the time to discuss work-life balance

By reviewing research on work-life balance and work engagement, we establish a clearer understanding of how organisations can support employees.

The idea of work-life balance (WLB) is receiving more attention than ever before, thanks to a recent shift in workforce interests and the increasing importance of health and well-being concerns. By reviewing various research on the subject, Associate Professor Jacob Wood – Associate Dean of Research (College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University in Australia; and Business, IT and Science at James Cook University in Singapore) and Associate Professor in Business at James Cook University – “established a consensus that work engagement as a distinct concept is associated with WLB.”

The integrative literature review study – in collaboration with Jihye Oh, PhD candidate in Human Resources Development at Texas A&M University, and Jiwon Park and Woocheol Kim, Assistant Professors in the Department of Human Resource Development at the Korea University of Technology and Education – recommends that Human Resource Development (HRD) practitioners better understand the relationship between work engagement and WLB, so that they can implement more well-rounded practices to support employees.

By developing supportive work systems and policies to promote higher levels of work engagement and WLB, organisations can help employees feel more honest and open at work, while also feeling more valued and engaged at the workplace.

For example, organisations can designate a “family day” in which all employees should finish their work and leave the office by 6 pm on that day, to spend quality time with their family on a more regular basis. Another approach could involve providing family counselling services that help to address any impending issues that employees may face confidentially – such as problems regarding marriage, children, and other relevant family issues.

Organisations can also offer online courses, as well as offline seminars or workshops that can help to develop and maintain self-esteem, provide preventive coping mechanisms for work-family conflict, as well as help to provide the skills required to effectively communicate with their spouse and children.

What’s more, efforts to develop WLB policy initiatives should be done with a long-term perspective in mind. After all, significant development in an organisation cannot be created or changed by some one-off events or within several months.

In order to create a work setting that strikes a good balance between WLB, work engagement, and the achievement of desired organisational outcomes, HRD professionals need to carefully understand, design, and implement HRD policy provisions in a manner that best reflects organisational culture.

More studies need to be done to further examine the relationship between work engagement and WLB, as well as to clarify the definitions of WLB and work-life imbalance. However, reviewing established research and opening up conversations is a step forward for better work environments.


Wood, J., Oh, J., Park, J., & Kim, W. (2020). The Relationship Between Work Engagement and Work–Life Balance in Organizations: A Review of the Empirical Research. Human Resource Development Review, 19(3), 240–262.

Check out Associate Professor Jacob Wood’s staff and research profiles here.

Find further information on our areas of research and research strength at James Cook University in Singapore here.


Associate Professor Jacob Wood [email protected]
Media: Pinky Sibal [email protected]