Home work or work house?

CCB

 

Posted in: Analysis/Comment, Employees, Speaking Out

Home work or work house?

August 01, 2000

Better bank balance needed

Banks discriminate against part-time workers compared to industry as a whole, according to a survey of 2,500 employers by the Institute for Employment Research released on July 5. Part of a comprehensive government study on work-life balance practices, the survey found only 60% of banks offer part-time working compared with 75% across all businesses. Moreover, banks are only half as likely as other sectors to allow staff to move from full-time to part-time work. They are also half as likely to offer crèche facilities. In March, 22 companies launched Employers for Work-Life Balance , chaired by Peter Ellwood, chief executive of Lloyds TSB, to work towards improved practice. Contact DfEE on 020 7925 5555 (http://www.dti.gov.uk/work-lifebalance)

Cash incentives on offer

Employers have been invited to bid for a share of an £81.5 million government fund that will provide free advice on developing flexible work policies. Announced at the start of June, the Work-Life Balance Challenge Fund will help pay for consultancy advice tailored to each company. At the launch, supermarket chain, ASDA , was praised for its flexible working practices, which include childcare leave during school holidays, shift swaps for family emergencies and sabbaticals for older employees; these have led to increased employee retention and reduced recruitment costs. Contact DfEE on 020 7925 5555 (http://www.dti.gov.uk/work-lifebalance)

Backlash from hard-working singles

Companies that introduce policies to promote flexibility for working parents face a growing backlash from single workers with no children, according to a study of nearly 2,000 professionals published by Management Today at the end of July. More than half report that childless workers are increasingly resentful of ‘family friendly’ policies that leave other workers bearing the brunt through increased workloads and longer hours. More than two thirds (68%) say work culture is still dominated by the need to be present – rising to 79% among working mothers. Contact Management Today on 020 7413 4566 (http://www.managementtoday.co.uk)

Men: can you believe them?

Having a job schedule that allows for family time is more important to young men than money, power or prestige, according to a study from the Radcliffe Public Policy Center , funded by FleetBoston Financial in the US. Eight in ten men aged 20-39 (82%) put family time at the top of their list. The survey of 1,008 American men and women also found that 71% of men aged under 39 say that they would give up some of their pay for more time with their families.

In the UK, eight in ten men approve of new laws which give fathers up to three months’ unpaid paternity leave, according to research by MORI for the employment services group, Adecco , released on June 11. The survey of 503 men in full-time employment found seven in ten (68%) saying that taking paternity leave would not harm their careers, but one in three (32%) among men aged over 40 did cite this as a possible fear. Meanwhile only a quarter of British men (23%) say that they can afford to take advantage of the new unpaid paternity leave rules, according to a survey from Virgin One and Royal Bank of Scotland . Contact Radcliffe Public Policy Center on 00 1 617 496 3048 (http://www.radcliffe.edu), Adecco on 020 8307 6341 (http://www.adecco.co.uk) and RBS on 0131 556 8555 (http://www.royalbankofscotland.co.uk)

Equality for part-timers

July 1 saw the start of new rights for Britain’s six million part-time workers, ensuring equal treatment on issues such as pay, sick pay, maternity and parental leave, access to pension schemes, training and holidays. The rights, which flow from a European Directive negotiated between employer and union organisations, should affect over 400,000 workers, mostly female. The TUC, which has published a guide to the new regulations, hailed the directive as “a significant advance in workers’ rights”. However, the Equal Opportunities Commission says the new rules will not have a significant effect until the option of working part-time is much more widely available. Contact DTI on 020 7215 5000; EOC on 020 7222 1110 (http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/ptime.htmhttp://www.eoc.org.ukhttp://www.tuc.org.uk)

Trend towards family-orientated firms

Companies will become more flexible and ‘family friendly’, will respect their employees more and recognise their achievements more consistenly. These are findings from a survey of HR professionals in 123 UK organisations by Hay Management Consultants, released on June 26. More than half expect their companies to offer flexible working hours by 2005, (less than a quarter do now). Whereas 81% do not believe that their companies truly respect their employees, only 42% believe that this will remain the case in 2005. Contact Lex Melzer, Hay, on 020 7881 7502 (http://www.haygroup.com)

…. and in Canada too

Research from Canada shows rapid growth in teleworking and work-at-home programmes, up from 11% in 1989 to 50% a decade later. Work-Life Balance: Are Employers Listening? was published by The Conference Board of Canada on June 27, with support from IBM, Kraft, Royal Bank of Canada and Xerox . Fewer than half of surveyed employers offer help with dependant care issues. Contact Paul Warren, Conference Board of Canada, on 00 1 613 526 3090 (http://www.conferenceboard.ca)

Comment

British managers work the longest hours of any in Europe bar the Germans. Hardly surprising then that a flood of surveys shows large numbers asking for more time with their families, while expressing fear about the impact on their careers. Flexible employment is supposed to be the way forward, allowing employers to get the job done and employees more balance.

Up to a point. Much of this is down to money: how much employers will pay towards childcare costs; likewise how much is government prepared to subsidise childcare for the greater good of society; and – here’s the truth – how much income will employees sacrifice in return for more time at home? We’ll never know the answers unless more employees vote with their feet, so HR professionals have to weigh up the costs of replacing them with the costs of persuading them to stay.

For a decade, telecommuting has been held out as the other great solution to work-life balance, at least for white collar jobs. Indeed, as the information and communication revolution is gathering pace, this is starting to become a reality. (Note of caution though: remember how computers were going to create the paperless office?) Can some of the cost savings from hot-desking, slimmed down head offices and no commuting time be ploughed back into funding flexibility?

For community relations specialists, some scenario planning is in order: what happens if the hollowing-out of companies becomes a reality – where is the local community when many are working from home? how can a sense of common values be fostered in a more disparate company? what is the scope for meaningful employee involvement if long hours remain the norm? No easy answers but all part of staying relevant as the company changes.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 53 – August, 2000

COMMENT:

British managers work the longest hours of any in Europe bar the Germans.

British managers work the longest hours of any in Europe bar the Germans. Hardly surprising then that a flood of surveys shows large numbers asking for more time with their families, while expressing fear about the impact on their careers. Flexible employment is supposed to be the way forward, allowing employers to get the job done and employees more balance.

Up to a point. Much of this is down to money: how much employers will pay towards childcare costs; likewise how much is government prepared to subsidise childcare for the greater good of society; and – here’s the truth – how much income will employees sacrifice in return for more time at home? We’ll never know the answers unless more employees vote with their feet, so HR professionals have to weigh up the costs of replacing them with the costs of persuading them to stay.

For a decade, telecommuting has been held out as the other great solution to work-life balance, at least for white collar jobs. Indeed, as the information and communication revolution is gathering pace, this is starting to become a reality. (Note of caution though: remember how computers were going to create the paperless office?) Can some of the cost savings from hot-desking, slimmed down head offices and no commuting time be ploughed back into funding flexibility?

For community relations specialists, some scenario planning is in order: what happens if the hollowing-out of companies becomes a reality – where is the local community when many are working from home? how can a sense of common values be fostered in a more disparate company? what is the scope for meaningful employee involvement if long hours remain the norm? No easy answers but all part of staying relevant as the company changes.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 53 – August, 2000

COMMENTS