Case Study: The Probuild Constructions Story Probuild Constructions was established in 1987. The company has been involved in such major projects as the new Grandstand at Flemington Racecourse, the Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre and Toyota’s corporate headquarters in Port Melbourne. In May 2005, Probuild successfully applied for a Victorian Government Better Work and Family Balance grant. The company wanted to investigate work-family balance at Probuild and develop a program that would work for the employees and the company. A working group made up of staff, union and management representatives was established to oversee a survey of all staff and the development of initiatives as part of a work-family balance program. The survey, distributed to all 150 employees in Victoria, was designed to: • Gather information about the work, family and life pressures currently impacting on them and their families. • Assess initiatives already in place to assist staff to manage these pressures. • Identify new initiatives that would have the greatest impact on staff satisfaction. To gain a picture about the impact working at Probuild was having on families, a separate survey was also prepared and circulated to the partners/ wives/ husbands of all employees. The response to the surveys was very good, with a 57 per cent return rate from employees and 70 per cent return rate from their partners/ wives/ husbands. Overall, employees reported that they were happy working for Probuild but that the constant pressure and long hours made it very difficult to successfully combine work and family. Several responded that the long hours- particularly working Saturdays- were having an adverse impact on their personal relationships. And the response from employees’ partners/ wives/ husbands was even stronger. They reported that the long hours and workload meant that they had to take almost full responsibility for day-to-day household management and family care, even though many were engaged in paid work. Probuild decided that the response from partners required further discussion so invitations to take part in a focus group were sent home via payslips. Sixteen partners/ wives/ husbands took part in the focus group. This led to recognition that the company’s work-family balance strategy needed to include: • Flexibility for different employees and their families to make choices that suited them best, with acknowledgement of the differing needs of salary and hourly rate. • Reassurance that taking up work-family balances options would not undermine anyone’s employment or position with Probuild. • A commitment to reducing the number of Saturdays employees are required to work. Working from all the information gathered by the survey and the focus groups, the working group met regularly to move the Probuild project to its next steps. A work-family policy was developed based on these five guiding principles: • All initiatives must be of mutual benefit to the individual and company. • Achieving better work and life balance is a team effort involving individuals and managers. • There is not one solution that will meet everyone’s needs. • Hard work can be done flexibly. • Good communications are fundamental to success. All employees and their partners/ wives/ husbands were invited to attend a major launch where they received an information pack outlining how the company intended to develop a better work and family culture. The pack contained a booklet to provide practical information for staff and their partners so they could assess their own needs and then set and achieve goals to bring about better work-life balance. Following a launch, specific action plans were developed to address key issues. An intensive training, development and coaching program was instigated for managers and performance review processes were changed to ensure that every employee’s work and family needs are documented. Probuild Constructions was an Award Winner at the 2009-10 National Work-Life Balance Awards, in recognition of its outstanding achievements in providing innovative work-life balance solutions in the construction sector. Probuild was also awarded the overall National Award Winner of the 2009-2010 National Work-Life Balance Awards, acknowledging its outstanding achievements in providing innovative work-life balance solutions in the construction industry. For Director of Probuild, Ted Yencken, the new work-family balance program is a key element in Probuild’s ability to retain and attract employees. Ted suggested that “the development of our work/life balance policy, principles and programs are the fundamental steps to creating a workplace culture which will be more supportive of work and life balance and which will deliver better outcomes for business.” (Extract taken from the Probuild Constructions case study, “Better work and family balance- moving to a more family friendly construction industry’, Task MUST ANSWER TO ALL QUESTIONS Based on the above case study, write an essay that answers all the questions: 1. Why do employees value opportunities for workplace flexibility? Would this strategy work in all organisations and industries? You should critically analyse your answer in terms of work-life balance theories and literature. 2. Is it possible for companies to be competitive and at the same time create a workplace that provides for flexibility and work-family balance? You may relate your answer to the flexible work arrangement theories, business competitiveness theories. 3. What other flexibility and work-family balance strategies could Probuild have adopted? What do you believe the productivity outcomes and benefits of such a program would be to Probuild? You may develop your arguments in terms of work life balance/ contextual, culture and job restructuring at the workplace, impact of work-life balance on employee wellbeing, performance, satisfaction, employee retention strategies etc. All the answers must be written into a single essay with supporting academic references throughout
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