EAE Business School was the venue for the conference “Work-life balance: trendy or necessary?” together with the company Compensa Capital Humano and the Asociación Centro de Dirección de RRHH (AEDIPE Centro - HR Management Centre Association), with the aim of discussing the benefits that work-life balance measures offer both to companies and employees. We would like to highlight that AEDIPE Centro is one of de EAE Business School’s new partner organizations.
Carlos Delgado, Chairman and CEO of Compensa Capital started off proceedings at the session, which filled the Events Hall of the Madrid Campus. The session was chaired by Enrique Arce, Director of Work-Life Balance and Diversity at Compensa Capital Humano. Then came the turn of Teresa Gallastegui, HR Director at Ecoembes, and César Martín, HR Director at Reale.
Both of them highlighted the importance of work-life balance and integration within their companies, sharing an insight into two very different companies (Ecoembes in a non-profit company with 17 years’ history, while Reale is an insurance firm founded in 1828) which, nevertheless, are both strongly committed to implementing this type of measures among their employees.
Below, you can read the interview with Carlos Delgado and discover his vision of the work-life balance situation in Spain, and the responsibility in this respect for both companies and individuals.
First of all, as the title of the conference asks, are we dealing with a trend or a need?
A need. Things have changed in the environment and context, such as the impact of technology on jobs, family compositions, etc. This means that the theoretical separation between personal life and work no longer exists. It has all mixed together, which requires a set of rules to be established, formal guidelines on how to adapt my professional interests to your personal interests together, beyond simply looking at remuneration.
How do you rate the situation of integration in Spain?
In Spain, as in all of the other Mediterranean countries, we have a strong tradition of the nuclear family: grandparents, uncles and aunts, siblings, etc. So the issue is easier than in some other places, where the concept of family is different. Nevertheless, we have to provide a solution for this issue, and we are increasingly aware of the fact. Young people that join the labour market have different perspectives and requirements, so this integration is necessary if we want to have the profiles that we need.
Some neighbouring countries are a step ahead in terms of work-life balance. How can we catch them up?
There are two aspects involved here. Firstly, there is public equality or, in other words, that there are employment regulations that make certain things compulsory, in which respect, we are obviously really far behind. Election manifestos mention these issues and measures that they are going to include, but they would be insufficient in any case. However, the greatest share of the responsibility falls on companies, not by way of a threat but rather an opportunity. To put it another way, if I do things in a certain way, I can be a more attractive option than my competitor. At a political level, they will always talk about this, but the great opportunity is in the world of companies.
What measure do you think would be fundamental in terms of the politicians?
We would have to change everything. The State does not have to regulate everything, but it does need to set certain minimums and back up all of the guarantees that suit the times we are living in. Often, we want to copy things from places that do it really well, but it would not be aligned to the situation.
Besides companies, what responsibility do individuals have?
A big responsibility. This is something that I haven’t spoken about but it is extremely important. Integration is an issue of responsibility. You are setting rules of the game that are based on trust and this means that you are not going to abuse them. This trust depends on the company (I have to understand these rules and I am not going to abuse them) but it is also crucial that this trust is not abused from the other side, for instance, saying that you are working from home, but really going to the gym. It requires a great deal of responsibility and monitoring.