Employee requests for flexible working are considered informally on a case-by-case basis despite the substantial benefits to employers, a major CIPD report launched today reveals.
Getting the Right Work-Life Balance, published at the annual conference in Harrogate this week, shows employers do not have a formal policy on part-time and other flexible work arrangements. The onus is on personnel staff or employees to negotiate individually with line managers.
CIPD adviser on employee relations Mike Emmott said employers need to adopt specific policies on flexible working and embed them in company cultures. “Formal policies also encourage staff to take advantage of family-friendly arrangements and help dispel negative attitudes,” he said.
If final decision on flexible working is left to line managers, he added, this may lead to unfairness and inconsistency, he added.
The report findings are based on case studies carried out by Cambridge University’s Judge Institute at 12 organisations in East Anglia. They suggest that one obstacle to creating flexible work practices is the negative attitude of managers who wrongly assume that such changes will cause problems. Typical responses include “customers will complain” and “productivity will suffer”.
Emmott said, “This report demonstrates that the psychological contract between employer and employee can be strengthened by work-life balance measures. And this pays off in terms of employee motivation and commitment. Even where flexible working leads to additional costs, these are marginal and generally felt to be outweighed by the gains.”
l Change is now so continuous in organisations that people get bored with it, Linda Holbeche, director of research at Roffey Park Management Institute, will tell the CIPD conference on Thursday. Mergers, de-mergers and restructurings are commonplace, while incremental changes such as process improvement and switching to e-relationships are continuous.
“It is like it is normal to change and people are saying ‘Oh God, here we go again!’,” said Holbeche.
web link www.cipd.co.uk/nationalconference
By Catriona Marchant