Employers and work-life balance

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Case studies

Farrelly Facilities & Engineering Ltd. Increasing sales and profits by reducing staff hours

The company
Farrelly Facilities & Eng Ltd, work in the construction industry, supplying design, installation and maintenance of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, power wiring and controls, throughout the UK to both the private and public sector.

Sector: Manufacturing
Location: West Midlands

50 employees
12% female
2% ethnic minorities
5% turnover
90% women returning after maternity leave

The challenge
To increase both sales and profits through reducing staff hours. Creating the TGI Monday feeling.

We decided to improve staff satisfaction and effectiveness by reducing hours to a standard 35 hour week (Organisations within the construction industry are well known for working hours of up to 50-60 hours week). The reduction in hours was implemented through careful planning and preparation, staff training and, above-all, team-work. When 4pm is upon us it is common to ask around the office to find out who needs help to tie up loose ends for the day. Our motto is to “do first things first”.

In addition we introduced several “work-life balance” policies:

Policies for all employees:

  • Individuals’ specific needs are assessed every 14 days in a personal development review
  • Directors door is always open and all employees may request time-off and flexible working
  • Home working when necessary is encouraged

Policies for parents:

  • Parental leave
  • Leave for children’s medical treatment, school holidays
  • Parents can leave as and when needed to fit around child care and school arrangements
  • Football and entertainment evenings encouraged within the organisation

Take-up and outcomes:

  • Parents with school/ nursery runs start work around 9.15 – 9.30am and finish around 3pm
  • 100% of administrative and managerial staff have taken up job sharing. This means that any employee requiring extended leave can do so without having to run through their work as we are all a team working together
  • 80% of staff take extended annual leave for school holidays and other family matters
  • Up to 85% of employees take advantage of our flexible working hours scheme

Business benefits
Since 1999, when we implemented Work Life Balance policies:

  • Sales increased fivefold from £2m to expected sales of £10m for 2003. Profits also increased significantly
  • Increased staff retention with 5% turnover rates (very low for the sector)
  • Vast reduction in customer complaints
  • More innovation by employees

Because staff are more satisfied with their working conditions, they more readily take ownership of their work and provide a better service for customers. Cost-savings are impressive, boosting profits as wasted project and management time is almost a thing of the past.

In practice
Padma started working in the accounts department at Farrelly Facilities & Engineering Ltd. eight years ago. She started as a part time employee working two to three days a week, due to her having young children. Since then Padma has increased the number of days she works to five days a week, starting at 9am and leaving at 3.15pm. This means she is able to take her children to school and pick them up at the end of the day. As Padma said in an interview with the NSPCC: “ As they’re flexible with me, I will be flexible with them – it works both ways”.

The future
Gerry (MD): The future looks much brighter for the employee, client and the company. Our aim is to provide the client with world-class service, good enough is not sufficient in a world where competition is reaching boiling point. To succeed you have to be different and the competitive edge at Farrelly Facilities & Engineering Ltd comes from competing with our people. The pay cheque is no longer the trophy, today the real job is the trophy and employers need to create a great work place. Competing on price alone you will not win. Competing with the best men and women – you will always win. ‘Getting a life is the key’.

September 2003


© Work-Life balance part of The Work Foundation 2005