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Work Life Balance

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 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.

Research Question

Where in a working life does work life balance become an issue?

Specifically, what about older workers as they prepare for retirement?


. a growing recognition that individuals require a satisfactory balance between the demands of work and those of the rest of life 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.

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Work-life balance is a persons control over the conditions in their workplace when dually satisfied about the personal life and 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. Balance is an implicit suggestion of an ideal goal of equivalence. 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 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, ECLO Conference 2009 5 Work Family integration

Policy Implications

USA historical perspective

Common Market / EEC / EU Policy

UK Policy

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Policy Focus

Is this just a gender issue? Supporting families? Getting more women into work Getting more work out of workers? Protection against claims for work place stress Flexicurity

Life Phases

Young People Mid Career Older Workers Post Retirement

Where flexible working exists, men often report a greater benefit. 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: to being seen to be at work for lengthy periods in order to demonstrate commitment to the employer.. 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. European countries have shorter hours but higher productivity, 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.

Young People

Career choice may influence work life balance later in life Career choice may be gendered Young people expect better work life balance than their parents

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Mid career

Does work interfere with life? Or does life interfere with work? Middlescence The loneliness of achievement

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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:
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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).
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Older Workers

A problem to managed or an asset to be valued? The Final Five Leaving a Legacy Easing gently or cold turkey?

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Post Retirement

Can you afford to retire when you want to? Balance between life and ? ? Access to services

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Employers responses

Legal minimum
Flexible working practices Work life balance for all

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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).
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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 days 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. (
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