Employers and work-life balance

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Work-life balance – logistical issues

Q1 Inevitably we are going to have some clashes around working times etc in some areas if we want to keep our service open for a reasonable time and still keep staff happy – what is the best way to resolve this?

A. Although ultimately the line manager will need to take the decision, getting teams together to discuss the problems will probably mean that you don’t have to go down that route at all – some organisations have found that sorting out these issues in consultative groups has led to team members having a greater understanding of each others’ roles and increased co-operation rather than increased conflict and it has helped to give individuals development opportunities they might not otherwise have had

Q2 Trade Unions will take advantage if we introduce more flexible working patterns and use it as an opportunity to argue for other concessions such as decreased hours

A. In fact introducing more flexible working patterns in consultation with Trade Unions has led to more harmonious employee relations, decreased pressure on Unions to bargain for decreased hours and a greater understanding of all of the business pressures that organisations must face.

Q3 It is not possible to introduce flexible working patterns in organisations as small as ours

A. False. Many small organisations have found it possible to introduce flexible working practices – in fact in smaller organisations where people tend to know each other well, and often understand something of each others personal circumstance, they are likely to make extra efforts to co-operate and try to help each other out.

Q4. Work life balance options should only apply to parents or carers – not other staff

A. In fact some organisations take one line and some the other – but in terms of retaining or attracting staff the more people who are covered by the policy the better!

Q5 Our managers just don’t seem able to cope with the policies – what should we do?

A. The first two options are clearly unacceptable, with the second being likely to give rise to serious morale problems in those areas where managers fail to apply organisational policies. The third and fourth options are both good ideas which other organisations have successfully used to help them implement policies.


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