tadi pagi saya baca artikel mengenai mengapa orang Jerman bekerja pada waktu yang pendek, namun dengan hasil yang lebih banyak dari posting fb temen saya dan jadi ingat kuliah International and Intelcultural Aspects of Ergonomics yang iseng saya ambil di semester dua,
yang super menarik dan nilainya baik tapi ga bakal masuk transkrip. waktu itu setiap orang harus milih topiknya sendiri, dan saya milih topik perbandingan work life balance Indonesia dan Jerman. dan berhubung saya udah lama gak posting sini, saya posting esai yang saya bikin di kelas itu aja ya. ini super copy paste, males translate juga ke bahasa Indonesia. kekekeee, males nulis akhir-akhir ini. mungkin bawaan umur. cmuggha bermanfaat! 😀
Definition of Work-Life Balance
The separation between work and lifestyle was invented in 1800 (Burke, 1995).The term work–life balance is a concept of prioritizing between work (career and ambition) and lifestyle (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).
Why has it become an issue?
One of the reasons why the Work-Life Balance started becoming an important issue isbecause of advances in technologies. As smartphones, notebook and tablet PC had become affordable, employees can now easily access their work from outside their workplaces. With these technologies, information about work had also become easily accessed. The companies distribute smartphone so that their employees can be contacted and given information even in the middle of the night or during weekend. Thus, their work hour had been extended to not only Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 anymore, but also to anytime they are needed and approachable as they do not have to work within their workplaces anymore.
This new trend—workers got new responsibilities to not only work from the workplace—have surely reduced the employees’ personal time. They will feel the responsibility to answer a phone call from work or to reply an email even though they are in the middle of a gathering with their family and friends. As a result, employees often feel distressed because they do not have life outside work anymore, since they still need to do work anytime they are needed.
At this circumstance, the loss is not only at the employees themselves but also at the company, because stressed workers are more likely to quit their job and they tend to make bad decisions. This is crucial for the company as the company is driven by their employees.
The second thing is globalization. During this era of globalization, every company competes with not only companies from their own country but also from all over the world. In here, qualified personnel are the best investment for a company. For this, it is important to become an attractive company to attract more qualified employees, especially by being a company that has good regulations on work life balance for their employees.
Another issue that leads Work-Life balance to become more crucial is the obligation when the employees are parents. Being parents often forces them to divide their time into work and family. This problem mostly affects female workers as they need time to give birth and because it is the mother role in society, although not in every family, to take care of her children.
Working mothers are perceived as less competent and less worthy of training than childless women (Cuddy & Fiske, 2004). In the same Cuddy et al. (2004) study, men who became fathers were not perceived as any less competent, and in fact, their perceived warmth increased. As a result, work-life balance leads to a gender problem. Because of that perception, women often have to choose between advancing their career and having children.
As having a child more or less leads to a cutback on a woman’s career, more of them decide not to have one. As a result, the birthrate is declining.
Declination of birthrate is a big problem for a country. At one point in the future, a country that has negative population growth will lack of labor force potentials. When the old generation outnumbers the productive age generation, the young people will have to work to support them. Besides, the country will have to hire employees from other countries to support and maintain the country development.
What people do to overcome this issue?
To overcome these problems, nowadays working time regulations and welfare state policies have been reformed in most European countries with the aim of making markets more flexible and also to promote, among other issues, women’s employment in child-raising years. Those regulations are such as allowing the workers to choose between part time employment and full time employment, giving paid or unpaid parental leave for the employees, obligating states in the country to have day care, etc. Some activities are also regularly held by companies in order to reduce the employees’ stress—vacations, sport events, etc.
More options and simplicity are also offered for women, at cost of lower wage as the flexible jobs are usually lower paid jobs. Those lower paid jobs which are found to be attractive for women has regular hours, more comfortable conditions, little travel, and greater personal fulfillment.
Other view on Work-Life balance
Although more people start to consider the importance of work-life balance, putting effort to divide their time between working and enjoying their social life, there is also another point of view. Paula J. Caproni on her article Work/Life Balance: You Can’t Get There From Here, state that the effort of trying to balance work and life is not supposed to be done. Career and personal life should not be considered as two different things that leads to different directions. They are, on the other hand, complement each other.
While the tendency of the studies on work-life balance is to write about how to overcome the unbalance in those two aspects, Caproni thinks that those effort are useless as balance is a state that is impossible to be realized. Thus, trying to achieve balance is somehow leads to stress. It is better to just accept and make the best of the condition. Moreover, it is undeniable that ‘work’ that is usually to be blamed for causing less time to gather with children, is actually also supporting them. When we do well with our work and get a good career, we will be able provide better living and education for our children.
Work-life balance in Germany
The English expression ‘work–life balance’ is occasionally used in Germany, although German terms such as Balance in der Arbeits- und Lebenswelt, Vereinbarung von Arbeit und Familie, or the related term Flexi-Arbeiten, have gained wider recognition in the media and elsewhere. Also, a range of government policies aims to support both parental rights and family-friendly work schemes in Germany (Arthur, 2002).
In Germany, the root of the problem is the ageing population. Because of this, at the same time, Germany has to cope with the demand of work while needing to give more time for family, to encourage marriage, as this country keeps having low birthrate—which potentially leads to the lack of labor force potentials in the future.
Some of the regulations regarding work-life balance in Germany are for every state to provide child care places. There are a lot of child care facilities in Germany, even in the universities. It has really eased the mother, so they can still do any other activities such as working or studying.
Another regulation is the possibility to get part time or full time employment. Even though part time employees receive less benefit than the full time employees, it enables mothers to still get a job while still able to take care of their children. Employers can change from part time to full time employment when they have valid reasons such as parental duties, educations, etc., with acknowledgement of three months in advance. The employers can reject their request if it is proven to be detrimental to business.
Flexible working time has also become a trend in Germany. More and more companies choose to offer this flexibility to the employees. This flexi time arrangement has not only benefited the employees, but also the company since it is believed that satisfied employees are more productive at work. With this flexible working time, one can leave their workplace at 2 pm to pick up their daughter from school, and get back to work and stay longer to pay their missing working time. There is also working time account for compensating for periods of overtime with reduced working hours within a certain period, extending from a short period to over several years. This has been implemented in a lot of companies all over Germany at least since 90s.
For a family with a newborn, both the mother and the father are allowed to work part-time up to 30 hours per week, until the child is one year old. Fourteen weeks of paid maternity leave is also possible for the mother before and after the labor.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) designed a life index in several aspects. One of it is the work-life balance. OECD measures the work-life balance based on the time consumed for working paid or unpaid—as in domestic work—and personal care (leisure).Based on the study, people in Germany have comparatively good work-life balance. They spend less time working than average people in OECD. They also spend more leisure time (cleaning, cooking, caring) compared to other OECD countries. The number of people working long hours is also relatively small.
Work-life balance in Indonesia
Even though the awareness of work-life balance has not really arises in Indonesia, and regulations regarding this issue such as choices between part time and full time employment has not been made, a recent survey by Nielsen Indonesia reported that Indonesians are concerned about the fact that they spend too much time in their workplaces, and have less time for friends and family (Indonesians concerned about work-life balance: Survey, 2012). In the same article, it is found that after financial stability, Indonesians biggest concern regarding a job is about a happy balance between work and home.
The underlying conditions of the rise in work-life balance issue that has been caused by gender inequalities at work that have not generally been addressed Indonesia. One of the possible reasons is simply because there is no such low birthrate problem in Indonesia. Conversely, the high rate of population growth faced by Indonesian in the last few decades was the issue to be solved. At the moment, although the population growth declines every year in Indonesia, it is seen as a success in the government family planning program.
A working woman in Indonesia does not necessarily face a problem in taking care of her family and children, because hiring a full time domestic servant and babysitter is definitely affordable. However, handing the responsibility of taking care of our own children is often seen as weakening our bond with them. For women who are afraid of this consequence, they would face conflict between continue pursuing her career and taking care of her family.
Unfortunately, the opportunity to choose between part time and full time employment has not been much offered. Unlike in some other countries where part time-full time employment is deployed to give freedom for women to pursue her career and take care of her children and family at the same time, because of the traditional view on gender role that is still held by a lot of Indonesian family, a woman will just resign from her job anytime she faced difficulty in dividing her work and family time. Besides, in most of Indonesian family, the men are responsible to feed and fulfill the needs of their entire family, even when the women have their own income. Moreover, since it is easy to open a home business, if they need more flexibility, they would prefer to start their own business, even with a risk of unsteady income.
Comparison between work-life balance in Germany and Indonesia
In Indonesia, officially employees got paid vacation of 12 days off per year. These 12 days off is including collective leave during the Islamic religious holiday, usually for 3-4 days, and Christmas-New Year holiday (year-end holiday), which is usually for also 3 days. Hence, there is only around 6 days left for the employees to take vacation in days other than the collective leave. Yet, it is depending on the company. Some companies give more paid vacations for its employees.
In Germany, generally employees get 4 working weeks holiday per year, except for civil employees who receive a minimum of 30 work days off.
In Germany, public holidays vary between federal states, between 9 to 13 days per year. In Indonesia, yearly there is 14 public holidays.
In Germany, a mother can take 14 weeks of 100%paid maternity leave which can be extended up to 12 months (or 14 months for single mothers), and paid maximal of 65%, but no more than 1800 Euro/month. Paternity leave is also possible for the fathers, also up to 12 month (or 14 month for single father) with 65% salary paid, up to 1800 Euro/ month. Unpaid maternity and paternity leave is also possible until the child turns 3 year old.
In Indonesia, paid maternity leave lasts for 3 months and paternity leave is only for 2 days. For civil employees, the paid leaves only apply on the first to third children. Parents should take unpaid parental leave in the case of forth or more children. In case of miscarriage, the mother gets 1.5 months of paid leave, and the father 2 days of paid leave. Extending the parental leave with unpaid parental leave is still uncommon in Indonesia.
Paternity leave is very short in Indonesia because child caring is still viewed as mother’s responsibility and fathers are not usually taking much duty in here. While in Germany it is commonly seen that a father take his toddler strolling, the same scene is hardly seen in Indonesia.
NOP World Culture Score
NOP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of UK-based United Business Media. It publishes a series of world culture score index which is based on further analysis of the NOP World Roper Reports Worldwide survey. It includes in depth personal interviews with more than 30000 people age 13 to 65 across countries. The index compares the work-life ratio of self-reported work hours, and time spent socializing with friends and family among employed people.
The NOP World Culture Score has an optimum number of 100, which means the ratio between times spent for working is equal to the time spent for leisure. If time spent for working is more than the time spent for leisure, the index will be more than 100, and vice versa. Based on this world culture score, Indonesia has a good work life balance index, with time spent for leisure is slightly more than time spent for working, as most of Indonesian spend 42.9 hours per week at work and 42.2 hours per week for leisure. Thus, the work/life index for Indonesia is 98, relatively close to the ideal value 100.Germany people on the other hand, spend more time for working than for personal leisure. They spend around 37.1 hours per week for working and only 31.6 hours for leisure. Thus, the index for Germany is 113.
Work-Life balance is a hotter issue in Germany than in Indonesia although there is a tendency that this issue will keep raising in Indonesia. More regulations regarding work-life balance have been reformed in Germany than in Indonesia.
The underlying reasons why work-life balance is regarded as important are the negative birthrate, employees’ stress regarding work, and altered trend toward globalization and technology advancement. Germany and Indonesia has different problems regarding the demographic, tradition and employment, therefore the importance of work-life balance has been addressed differently in these two countries.
Arthur, L. (2002). Work–Life Balance: Towards an Agenda for Policy Learning Between Britain and Germany. London: Anglo-German Foundation.
Burke, P. (1995). The Invention of Leisure in Early Modern Europe. Past and Present no.146.
Caproni, P. J. (2004). Work/Life Balance: You Can’t Get There From Here. THE JOURNAL OF APPLIED BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE, Vol. 40 No. 2, 208-218.
Cuddy, A. J., & Fiske, S. T. (2004). When Professionals Become Mothers, Warmth Doesn’t Cut the Ice. Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 60, No. 4, 701-718.
Gregory, A., & Milne, S. (2009). Editorial: Work–life Balance: A Matter of Choice? Gender, Work and Organization.