Work-life balance in organisations

Analysing work-life balance in Germany and presenting BMW as a family-friendly German company

Scientific Essay, 2010

11 Pages, Grade: 1,7




1 Introduction

2 The importance of leisure for work-life balance

3 Work-life balance in Germany
3.1 Leisure time and leisure activities in Germany
3.2 Work-life balance movement in Germany

4 BMW as an example for a family-friendly company
4.1 Work-life balance at BMW
4.2 Win-win situation

5 Work-life balance policies in organisations: implications for managers

6 Conclusion

7 References

1 Introduction

The following paper describes the work-life balance movement in Germany and the work-life balance policies of the German car and motorcycle producer BMW. First, work-life balance (WLB) will be defined and the importance of leisure for WLB will be briefly explained. Next, the paper will provide information about leisure in Germany and explain some reasons for the German WLB movement. By describing the WLB policies of BMW, the paper will examine the influence organisations can have on their employees’ WLB and the reasons organisations have to introduce WLB programmes. The paper will argue that WLB policies provided by organisations need to be managed professionally to result in a win-win situation.

2 The importance of leisure for work-life balance

Work-life balance is receiving increasing attention and is one of the most important challenges facing Human Resources (McCarthy, Darcy, & Grady, 2010, p. 158). According to McCarthy et al. (2010, p. 158), the term WLB is “used to describe organizational initiatives aimed at enhancing employee experience of work and non-work domains”. However, WLB is not only an organisational initiative but also directly concerns individuals: According to Blyton, Blunsdon, Reed, & Dastmalchian (2006), WLB stands for a successfully managed balance of life and work that results in satisfaction and well-being for individuals. A perfect WLB means that individuals are satisfied with each segment illustrated in Figure 1:

Figure 1: WLB Wheel

illustration not visible in this excerpt

(Source: McIntosh, 2003, p. 188)

For the satisfaction of these segments, leisure is essential. Haworth and Veal (2004, p. 1) define leisure as “time which is not occupied by paid work, unpaid work or personal chores” and argue that well-being and enjoyment are important leisure characteristics. Leisure is the key for a sane WLB, as explained with the example of the health segment: Enough free time avoids time pressure which “contributes to higher levels of stress” which “contributes to mental health disorders ... and other health problems“ (Zuzanek, 2004, p. 133). Furthermore, participation in leisure activities reduces anxiety and depression (Haworth, 2004) and Iso-Ahola and Mannell (2004) argue that leisure prevents the risk of burnout.

3 Work-life balance in Germany

Leisure time and activities in Germany and the German WLB movement will be presented in the following.

3.1 Leisure time and leisure activities in Germany

Figure 2 illustrates the percentage of leisure time – 24 hours minus time spent on paid and unpaid work and personal care – in an average day within 18 selected OECD countries.

Figure 2: OECD countries: Percentage of leisure time in an average day

illustration not visible in this excerpt

(Source: OECD, 2009)

With 27.4 percent (approximately 6.5 hours) Germans have the second most leisure time. Australians, for comparison, reach only 22.5 percent (approximately 5.5 hours). The high leisure time in Germany is related to the fact that “Germany is among those countries with the shortest contractual work times” (BMW Group, 2002, p. 2). According to Alberto, Glaeser and Sacerdote (2005), Germany’s average working hours per person per week account for only 18.7. Moreover, German employees annually have the right for 24 paid leave days (Bundesministerium der Justiz[1], n.d.).

According to Statistisches Bundesamt[2] (2008), Germans spend 11 percent of their consumption expenditure on leisure, which accounts for €218 a month. Figure 3 provides an overview of leisure activities and participation in Germany.


[1] „Bundesministerium der Justiz“ is the German Federal Ministry of Justice

[2] “Statistisches Bundesamt” is the name of the Federal Statistical Office of Germany and can be compared with the Australian Bureau of Statistics

Excerpt out of 11 pages


Work-life balance in organisations
Analysing work-life balance in Germany and presenting BMW as a family-friendly German company
Griffith University
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ISBN (Book)
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Work-life balance, BMW, Work-life balance movement, leisure in Germany
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Anonymous, 2010, Work-life balance in organisations, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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