Step 3: Maximise buy-in from stakeholders

There are many ways to secure enthusiasm for change in the workplace. Motivation can come from both management and from employees. Groups of employees can form a network to create mentoring and discussion opportunities in order to bring attention to the issue, and HR departments may begin evaluation and certification for ‘family-friendly employer’ awards. In some cases, the decision to improve work-life balance and initiate gender mainstreaming came from the company leadership. To ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to any workplace initiative, buy-in from senior leadership is essential.

Understanding employees’ needs is the first step in designing successful work-life balance measures. This can be done via a survey, which should ascertain the needs of employees with different family situations, for example,  working parents of either gender, carers, parents of children with special needs, and those who would benefit from work-life balance measures in order to pursue major life goals outside the workplace.

Roll-out of work-life balance policies is usually led by HR but can be implemented by different departments. Involving multiple departments can be useful for broadening the focus beyond the ‘white collar’ segment of the company and ensuring work-life balance measures are truly inclusive. Involving trade union representatives at an early stage is also critical.

Line managers must also be involved in this process from early on.

In-house training sessions on gender-equality for staff involved in the design of work-life balance programmes can further enhance the effectiveness of such initiatives.

Male staff must also be involved throughout the process to show that their interests are being taken into consideration. Sports activities can be a useful ice-breaker and regular fathers’ groups a good way of maintaining momentum.