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