THE TIMES IN A WORKING LIFE WHERE WORK LIFE BALANCE BECOMES AN ISSUE Issues of work life balance are becoming more important to organisations that wish to be seen as an “employer of choice”. Policy developments at EU level and in the UK have improved the situation for some workers in some organisations, but the individual response is still patchy. Some employers will offer the absolute legal minimum, whereas others embrace the notion of work life balance for all, and see it as a basic right for their workforce. The “vital” organisation should be able to recognise, and respond to, the moral and business case for work life balance, enabled through a variety of flexible working initiatives. However the effects of the current financial climate may well wipe out the progress that has been made. This presentation will introduce some of my research on the times in a working life where work life balance becomes an issue, and how national and international policy has impacted upon the way that organisations respond to the needs of their employees. Examples of your own work life balance (or lack of it) will be very welcome.
Work-life balance is a person’s control over the conditions in their workplace. It is accomplished when an individual feels dually satisfied about their personal life and their paid occupation. Using the term “Work-Life” suggests that there is an easy divide between work and life, but that does not address issues of unpaid work, or how that relates to family and individual life. Some individuals maintain a strong division between their paid job and everything else they do; others enjoy their work and feel so fulfilled by it that it can take up most of their waking hours. By using the term “Balance” there is an implicit suggestion of an ideal goal of equality or at least equivalence. (Ransome, 2007) If there is a balance to be achieved, is it the same for everyone, or are we all doing it differently? If a person spends most of their time working at an enjoyable activity, does that mean they have failed to achieve a whole and fulfilling life? Some people spend the minimum of time at their job so that they can spend the rest of their time pursuing a hobby, which again may not lead to a “balanced life”. Lots of definitions about family and WLB Work Family Conflict, Work Family integration Work interfering with life or life interfering with work
1970’s American business schools turned out “Organisation Man” – lunch is for wimps, work till you drop. No place in management for women. No desire to change until demographic changes forced them to rethink. Treaty of Rome in 1957 created the Common Market – tried to rationalise working practices across member states to provide a level playing field for competition and co-operation. 1961UK applies to EEC 1962CAP set up 1963De Gaulle's veto 1967UK applies again 1970UK's third application 1972UK signs treaty 1973UK joins EEC 1975UK's referendum 1974 Social Action Programme started to improve living and working conditions across the EU = equal opportunities, positive action for disabled and elderly. 1987 UK passes the Single European Act 1989 The Social Charter introduced fundamental rights for workers – but – overshadowed by disputes over monetary union. 1992 Maastricht Treaty (UK opt-out) Working Time Directive 1999 UK finally agreed the working time directive, + parental leave directive - the development of family friendly employment systems. 2000 Lisbon Agenda targets for employment - measures to improve workplace adaptability through the introduction of flexible working. 2002 “ Flexicurity” Conservative government had introduced the extension of nursery provision , extended maternity leave and promoted flexible working during the mid 1990s 1998 Supporting Families business case for Work Life Balance = it could “reduce absence due to casual sickness, and improved employee retention, productivity, morale and commitment” Now emphasis is on “family friendly” 2006 Work and Families Act now provides for longer maternity leave and statutory paternity leave and the right to request flexible working for a larger group of individuals.
Men? And yet where flexible working exists, men often report a greater benefit. Parents? But traditional families are less than 30% of all UK households Regardless of family commitments, individuals frequently complain of the increased pressures of work, and of having to be seen to demonstrate loyalty to the organisation through working excessively long hours. BUT: presentism : the practice of needing to being seen to be at work for lengthy periods in order to demonstrate commitment to the employer. “When people hang around the office till late, little work gets done but at least they look as though they are keen. The value that the organisation sets on mobile and home working indicates the extent that presentism attitudes are present.” This does not lead to greater efficiency or effectiveness. He points out that other European countries have shorter hours but higher productivity, and notes that Swiss employers believe that people who regularly work longer hours are actually demonstrating that they are inefficient (Langham 2003). Working long hours is due to FEAR Part time? Maybe, what are people doing in the other part? Another (unpaid) job, like keeping house? Public sector has much greater reported stress levels Rural life may not be the idyll that people imagine. City dwellers – live close to work + isolated Young people pressured to take “gendered jobs”. younger workers were more insistent upon flexible working and not being exploited at the expense of their family and social life Older workers may not be able to afford to retire when they want.
Employers seek a win-win solution to get a happy and productive workforce Men Under pressure to work long hours Work is so much more complex now. But, benefit from family friendly policies. Women 2 jobs, one paid, the other unpaid care for children and elderly parents – what real choices do they have? Flexible and part time working can harm career prospects – no demonstration of commitment to the job. BUT: presentism : the practice of needing to being seen to be at work for lengthy periods in order to demonstrate commitment to the employer. “When people hang around the office till late, little work gets done but at least they look as though they are keen. The value that the organisation sets on mobile and home working indicates the extent that presentism attitudes are present.” This does not lead to greater efficiency or effectiveness. He points out that other European countries have shorter hours but higher productivity, and notes that Swiss employers believe that people who regularly work longer hours are actually demonstrating that they are inefficient (Langham 2003). Working long hours is due to FEAR
the view held in the US that workers in their final five years of work can be unproductive and can become a liability, and yet many companies have no knowledge management systems in place to ensure that a lifetime’s experience and expertise does not just walk away at retirement. simple solutions such as establishing a mentoring scheme, or using the repertoire of expertise of older workers through advisory committees, have yet to be introduced in many organisations The generation approaching retirement now has less chance of gaining good work life balance because it was never an option when they were younger.
Well being at or shortly after retirement may have little to do with age, being more affected by whether the individual is able to exercise control over when and how they retire (Calvo 2009). Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that gradual retirement will lead to a happier life, with employers seemingly willing in some circumstances to allow a flexible job design for older workers to ease them out of the job gently while harvesting their accumulated knowledge and wisdom (Yeandle 2006). Calvo et al (2009) found to their surprise that sudden retirement actually created a more fulfilling retirement than a gradual reduction in hours or responsibilities. However they did acknowledge that it may be that simply having a decision to make, rather than having retirement thrust upon them, that will enable the individual to enjoy their retirement years (Calvo 2009).
Part time Job share Term time only Remote working Consolidated hours Variable hours Self-managed working Recent research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009) found “ .. a strong case for re-configuring maternity, paternity and parental leave and extending flexible working. These measures would respond to high demand from parents and the wider working population, achieve greater equality, fairness and choice, improve the quality of life and of childhood, and provide benefits for employers and the economy.” If their choices are still dictated by old fashioned views of who should work and who should care for children and the home, or by business owners who will not offer truly flexible working conditions, or by inequalities in maternity and paternity leave arrangements, then men are being prevented from taking their preferred share in parenting and women are being prevented from reaching their potential in the workplace (EHRC 2009). Asda offer a wide range of Work/Life balance options, including: IVF leave (five days' paid leave to women undergoing IVF treatment, and 1.5 days for partners); 'Benidorm' leave - up to three months unpaid leave between January and March while maintaining a continuous work history (in addition to paid annual leave); Grandparent leave - five days unpaid leave on the birth of a grandchild; Sabbatical leave - up to two years' unpaid leave while remaining a member of staff and with a guaranteed job on return; Employees can also take holiday for a wide range of reasons, including Grandparent Leave, Carers Leave, Study Leave, Religious Festival Leave and Yellow Ribbon Leave – a paid day’s leave to staff with relatives returning from military service in Iraq. Not only do flexible hours mean we can attract a wider range of employees, but it also means that staff are more committed to their jobs, which reduces absenteeism and improves morale and retention.” (www.tesco.com/everylittlehelps.)
Anita work life balance eclo
Work Life Balance Anita Pickerden ECLO Conference 2009
Research Question <ul><li>Where in a working life does work life balance become an issue? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Specifically, what about older workers as they prepare for retirement? </li></ul></ul>ECLO Conference 2009
Definitions <ul><li>“… . a growing recognition that individuals require a satisfactory balance between the demands of work and those of the rest of life” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Work life balance is about the challenges that face individuals when they are trying to hold paid work and home in domestic life in balance. “ </li></ul>ECLO Conference 2009
Policy Focus <ul><li>Is this just a gender issue? </li></ul><ul><li>Supporting families? </li></ul><ul><li>Getting more women into work </li></ul><ul><li>Getting more work out of workers? </li></ul><ul><li>Protection against claims for work place stress </li></ul><ul><li>“ Flexicurity” </li></ul>ECLO Conference 2009
Life Phases <ul><li>Young People </li></ul><ul><li>Mid – Career </li></ul><ul><li>Older Workers </li></ul><ul><li>Post Retirement </li></ul>ECLO Conference 2009
Young People <ul><li>Career choice may influence work life balance later in life </li></ul><ul><li>Career choice may be gendered </li></ul><ul><li>Young people expect better work life balance than their parents </li></ul>ECLO Conference 2009
Mid – career <ul><li>Does work interfere with life? Or does life interfere with work? </li></ul><ul><li>“ Middlescence” </li></ul><ul><li>The loneliness of achievement </li></ul>ECLO Conference 2009
Older Workers <ul><li>A problem to managed or an asset to be valued? </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Final Five” </li></ul><ul><li>Leaving a Legacy </li></ul><ul><li>Easing gently or cold turkey? </li></ul>ECLO Conference 2009
Post Retirement <ul><li>Can you afford to retire when you want to? </li></ul><ul><li>Balance between life and ? ? </li></ul><ul><li>Access to services </li></ul>ECLO Conference 2009
Employers’ responses <ul><li>Legal minimum </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible working practices </li></ul><ul><li>Work life balance for all </li></ul>ECLO Conference 2009
My Next Steps <ul><li>West Midlands Fire Service </li></ul><ul><li>Questionnaire of all staff </li></ul><ul><li>Detailed questionnaire of few </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Report </li></ul><ul><li>“ Call me Doctor!” </li></ul>ECLO Conference 2009