The concern of employees in managing their lives outside of work has now become an issue for all organisations.
In light of the importance of work-life policies and practices for good people management and business effectiveness, most organisations still do little to help employees balance their work and non work demands.
Policies which help employees balance their work and non work priorities are becoming increasingly popular in Ireland recently. Along with a legislative imperative for family leave related policies, employers are being encouraged to introduce work-life polices and make them more inclusive in order to enhance performance.
Research has shown that employers in Ireland are of the view that work-life balance arrangements can help:
- Increase employee satisfaction (85% of Employers Surveyed)
- Attract and Retain staff (74%)
- Increase Employee productivity (58%)
- Improve the reputation of the organisation (56%)
- Reduce labour turnover (56%)
- Decrease absenteeism / sick leave (50%)
Flexible Working Arrangements
When introducing work life balance arrangements the balance has to be struck not only at individual level but also at organisational level.
When creatively managed, work-life balance arrangements can improve the organisations performance .This leads to the question of how best to manage the development and introduction of work-life balance arrangements. There is no “one size fits all” pattern of work-life practices.
The following is not an exhaustive list but indicates the kinds of flexible working arrangements that employers might want to consider adopting.
Part-time work basically means working fewer hours. The number of people working part-time in Ireland has soared in recent years with the majority of them being women. There are various forms of part-time working.
Fixed part-time is the most popular model where an employee works a reduced number of hours per day, or fewer days per week.
Annualised hours is a scheme whereby an employee is contracted to work a defined number of hours per year rather than per week. Working time is scheduled to deal with seasonal variations and fluctuations on the organisation throughout the year.
Job sharing is an arrangement to divide one full job between 2 people with the responsibilities and benefits of the job being shared between them. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Split Week i.e. 2 and 3 days per week.
- On the basis of a split day.
- On the basis of a week on week off.
Job splitting is an arrangement similar to job sharing except that the tasks involved in a full time job are split between 2 people and each has responsibility for their own tasks rather than being equally responsible for the whole job.
Flexitime is an arrangement whereby employers and employees negotiate hours of work that are of advantage to both. It involves defining “core hours” when all employees must be in work. Starting and finishing times are flexible and there is usually a provision for taking leave in lieu of additional hours worked.
Work-Sharing is a development of the job sharing/Job splitting concept. It attempts to achieve business tasks while allowing different attendance patterns. Management and jobholders agree on a system of work attendance that will carry out the tasks that make up the job.
An ever widening range of initiatives to enable employees restore a balance between work and private life have appeared in recent years. Such initiatives are important where a large proportion of employees have family responsibilities. Workers in this category are increasingly looking to organisations with family friendly policies.
Consulting with employees in an effort to come to agreements over the flexible re-organisation of working arrangements is the best way forward. Visit www.worklifebalance.ie for more information.