European Social Dialogue Committee for Central Government Administrations

How digitalization affects the work-life balance of employees in central government administrations? What types of work-life balance arrangements and new ways of working are provided in the public sector aided by digitalization? In this research project, we were tasked to explore the relationship between digitalization and how employees in central government administrations perceive their level of work-life balance and wellbeing.

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The main objective of the European Social Dialogue Committee for Central Government Administrations (SDC CGA) - that brings together the representatives of trade unions (TUNED) and employers (EUPAE) - is to improve the functioning of administrations. It also aims to promote social dialogue at national and European levels. Through its work, among many areas, the Committee focuses on the quality of public services, equality and diversity, health and safety, working conditions, work-life balance or digitalization.

Background of the research

The issue of work-life balance is gaining momentum across Europe and is slowly being recognised as a key component in response to a number of challenges, which may be demographic, economic, transportation, childcare related and mainly addressing the opportunities for women to pursue work and career following childbirth.

There are several policy initiatives across the EU that foster work-life balance by providing funding, access to best practices, changing legislation and investing in infrastructure. However, there are shortcomings still in many parts of Europe, with huge differences between countries and regions, urban and rural areas. What is, however, being recognised more and more is that both digitalization and flexible ways of working could help foster individuals' work-life balance.

To date, multi-country, comparative research investigating the impact of digitalization on the work-life balance of employees in central government administrations is limited and sporadic.

Applied research methodology and outcome

Following a comprehensive review of existing literature, we developed a case study design, conducted 2 focus group meetings (1st Focus Group meeting presentation; 2nd Focus Group meeting presentation), run a series of interviews, analysed and extracted the data.

The 'Improving work-life balance: Opportunities and risks coming from digitalization' publication, distils key concepts and the relation (positive or negative) between digitalization and work-life balance. For digitalization to be successful and to improve the work-life balance of public sector employees, it identifies and proposes 11 key success factors - illustrated by case studies - for any organisation to follow.

Based on the findings of the Field Study, the research also contributed to the development of a set of Guidelines for a checklist of DOs and DON'Ts which contain actionable recommendations for managers and trade union representatives of central government administrations.

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