Group challenges study’s long-hours City findings

A report claiming that the City of London is dominated by a macho long-hours
culture has been challenged by the City Personnel Group.

The study reveals that despite the widespread availability of work-life
balance policies among City employers, those who choose to take them up are
penalised.

Researchers were told in discussions with middle and senior managers from
City organisations that requests for flexibility are typically interpreted as
showing a lack of commitment to the career and the employer.

The research, by Parents at Work, Opportunity Now and the City Parents @
Work, also claims that while City employers appear keen to address the changing
expectations of young entrants to the job market, little attention is being
paid to the needs of more senior City workers.

But Hilary Jackson, group development manager of the City Personnel Group,
which represents senior City HRdirectors, disagrees with the report.

"The macho idea suggest that long hours are a good thing in themselves,
which is obviously not so. Also it is clearly not the case that flexibility
requests show a lack of commitment to the firm, although flexibility depends on
the job. Some jobs, including trading or client interfacing are known to impose
restrictions as staff are at the will of clients or the markets and salaries
reflect this."

Jackson argues that organisations such as banks are increasingly using
technology to help their staff work more flexibly and those that are successful
in creating an environment recognising work-life balance will certainly be more
effective in retaining talent.

Howard Davies, chairman of the Financial Services Authority and patron of Parents
at Work, said work-life balance is becoming an increasingly important business
issue.

www.parentsatwork.org.uk

By Paul Nelson

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