Work-life balance - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Work-life balance

Benefits

Work-life balance brings benefits to the workplace as well as to employees.

Work-life balance:

  • enhances retention of employees, including in difficult economic circumstances;
  • builds workplace morale and productivity;
  • supports workplace equality and participation in the workplace of a diversity of employees from across the grounds of gender, civil status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion and membership of the Traveller community;
  • makes a particular contribution
    • to older workers seeking phased retirement;
    • to migrant and other minority ethnic workers seeking flexibility in holidays and in being able to observe religious or cultural obligations;
    • to people with caring responsibilities seeking to combine caring and paid work
    • to employees with disabilities seeking a reasonable accommodation of their specific needs.

Work-life balance brings the most benefits when the options available suit the organisation’s needs and those of its employees.

Achieving Work-Life Balance

If the benefits of investing in work-life balance are to be realised properly, it is recommended that work-life balance arrangements are organised on a systematic basis as follows:

  • that the organisation has a work-life balance policy which sets out its approach to work-life balance
  • that the organisation develops a work-life balance programme which identifies the arrangements that are most suitable to business and employee needs
  • that the organisation undertakes work-life balance training for managers and employees
  • that the organisation puts in place work-life balance supports so that work-life balance arrangements can be implemented effectively.

The tools below provide ways in which these four areas can be developed.

Developing a Work-Life Balance Policy

Work-Life Balance Policy It is recommended that the work-life balance policy set out:

  • the organisation’s commitment to:
    • putting in place work-life balance arrangements for staff,
    • ensuring that staff availing of such arrangements do not experience discrimination as a consequence; and
    • designing arrangements that accommodate staff diversity (staff with caring roles, staff with disabilities, minority ethnic staff, older staff etc.)
  • the organisational approach to implementing work-life balance:
    • who will have responsibility for implementing work-life balance;
    • how arrangements will be designed;
    • the type of training to be provided;
    • the way in which the arrangements will be monitored.
  • the procedures by which staff can apply for and avail of these arrangements;
  • the arrangements for communicating these options to staff.

Developing a Work-Life Balance Programme

It is recommended that a work-life balance programme establish the organisation’s approach to work-life balance and identify:

  • how work-life balance can be addressed in the context of the organisation’s business needs;
  • the range of work-life balance needs that the programme will need to address;
  • the range of work-life balance arrangements that will be offered;
  • the system for implementing work-life balance

Preparing the Work-Life Balance Programme

The preparation of a work-life balance programme involves:

  • Consulting with trade union and employee representatives on the preparation of the programme;
  • conducting an assessment of employee needs in relation to work-life balance;
  • reviewing current arrangements and business needs to identify the potential for change;
  • identifying work-life balance arrangements that respond to employee needs and that sustain business success;
  • setting out the systems to implement and monitor the programme;
  • examining various roles as to suitability for alternative working arrangements;
  • considering implications of proposed arrangements for other employees and for the workplace;
  • considering implications of work arrangements for the employee’s salary, pension benefits, etc.;
  • preparing agreements to be signed by employer and employee setting out the conditions and duration of the working arrangement.

Work-Life Balance Training

Work-life balance training supports the organisation and its staff to design, implement and manage work-life balance arrangements and contributes to a workplace culture supportive of work-life balance.

It is recommended that work-life balance training:

  • target all staff to build awareness of:
    • the organisation’s policy and procedures in relation to work-life balance;
    • equality legislation and legislation on maternity, parental, carers’ and adoptive leave;
    • the individual, organisational and societal benefits of work-life balance arrangements and work practices;
    • the implications for the employee who avails of work life balance arrangements.
  • target senior management to build awareness of:
    • the case for work-life balance;
    • the best way to realise the organisational benefits of work-life balance.
  • target line management and human resources personnel to develop skills in:
    • staff needs assessment in relation to work-life balance;
    • the effective design and implementation of work-life balance arrangements;
    • managing staff on flexible working arrangements.
  • target trainers in the organisation to develop their capacity to deliver work-life balance training.

Supports for Work-Life Balance

It is recommended that a senior manager have responsibility for implementing the work-life balance programme and that a working group should be established to review the operation of the programme.

Monitoring

It is recommended that information be collected for the work-life balance committee on:

− evolving needs among employees in relation to work-life balance;

− the impact of work-life balance on business success, employee well-being and equality in the workplace.

Please note that these factsheets are for information only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such.