Do as I say, not as I do in a HR office near you

While listening to a recent cornflake redundancy announcement, I realised my work-life balance had hit the glass ceiling.

My boss has gone policy-crazy this year and now he wants me to produce a policy paper on work-life balance issues and what we should be doing about them.

He feels that if we get this right, staff morale and productivity will soar, resignations will fall and recruitment costs will plummet. And he will look good at board meetings.

Typically, he fails to consider the HR department’s work-life balance in general – and mine in particular.

Work-life balance must be my fifth policy document this year and there’s still three months to go.

We’ve had talent management, career development, effective recruitment, diversity and difference, not to mention security. One more will put me off my cornflakes for the rest of 2004.

It was while munching said cereals that I heard a radio news announcement that hundreds of jobs were to go at shipping line P&O and the staff had yet to be told. Following this came another news item that caused a cornflake-eating hiatus – many German workers have agreed to work longer hours to boost productivity and keep their jobs.

Not much work-life balance progress there, then.

It strikes me that work-life balance is a luxury HR item to be used during economic good times and one that is likely to be put back on the shelf when the reverse holds true.

But the HR lot is not to reason why, but to get on with it.

Thus my October mornings and evenings will now be occupied by considering the knock-on effects of hours that can be annualised, staggered, compressed and flexed. But don’t tell the Germans.

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