15th October 2015

    Workplace flexibility.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [3.50 p.m.]: I will speak to the motion from a different aspect. I support the principle of flexibility in the workplace. It is important to address the mental and physical health of employees in a workplace where the work is difficult, the stress level is high and there are many deadlines. Often people do not merge their work lives and home lives, for different reasons. At home people may have to deal with illness of a partner, a child or a family member. That and other factors make life complex and it is impossible to live a regimented life. At the same time their workplace may be rigid and regimented, and does not provide flexibility, which results in more stress. That can have deleterious impacts on their wellbeing and their capacity to manage their lives, both at work and at home.

    Flexibility in the workplace is a robust way of sustaining the mental and physical health and wellbeing of employees. I have experienced this. I worked in the mental health area for 23 years and was a team leader for a community mental health service. We developed more flexibility for employees to adjust their shifts, work relationships and timetables to be home once or twice a week when their children came home at three o’clock or half past three. They were able to assist with meals or look after a parent who may be dementing. All these factors affect our lives. Flexibility in the workplace enables employees to be home and enjoy their family life but at the same time provide support and strength to family and friends who may be suffering from a broad spectrum of health problems. That brings more wellbeing and strength to work performance. So it is a win-win situation.

    Where there is flexibility employees can go home and attend to these things, and enjoy their children, friends and partners; they then come to work and contribute to a different culture and mindset, which results in better performance and productivity in the workplace. The measure of any workplace is the impact that we bring to the outcome of our employment. If employment can be balanced with a personal life, flexibility in the workplace is an important principle that results in a better workplace, better performance and productivity, as well as a happier and more fulfilled home life at home with children, friends and family. I support the motion.

    The full debate can be read here.

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