Flexible Working is Key to Attaining Work-Life Balance – but Beware of the Unsupportive Employer

Today CIPD launched a new report which explores employees’ experiences of commuting and flexible working.

The findings highlight that the top three causes of stress for employees are money worries, the demands of their job and family and relationship issues.

Interestingly the survey found that employees who are able to work flexibly are more satisfied with their jobs, experience better work–life balance and less exposure to excessive pressure at work; 65% of flexible workers were satisfied or very satisfied with their work–life balance, compared with 47% of employees who don’t work flexibly.

Flexible working and parents

Last year Employers For Childcare launched ‘Striking the Balance’, a report which explores the impact becoming a parent has on working life, employment and career. The ability to work flexibly greatly benefited parents in the survey with many commenting on specific advantages such as creating a better work-life balance, building positive parent-child relationships and enhancing personal wellbeing. These findings mirror those highlighted today in the CIPD report. However, the role of the employer is crucial to ensuring that flexible working policies are implemented in the first instance, and that employees are positively encouraged to use them.

The role of the supportive employer

Our report showed that in some workplaces a range of flexible working policies were on offer, however the culture of the workplace deterred employees from making use of them; for example, employees were treated less favourably upon requesting flexible working or felt side-lined by their colleagues or employers.

To capture the impact of negative attitudes we asked parents how satisfied they were with their work-life balance and we measured this against how supportive their employer was. The results showed that 66% of respondents with a very supportive employer were satisfied or very satisfied with their work-life balance, compared to just 8% of those with a very unsupportive employer.

The CIPD report calls for employers to recognise the business case for increasing the use of flexible working which can be a win–win for both the organisation and the employee. It also highlights the role of senior and line managers in shaping organisational culture and enabling more flexible ways of working.

How to be a Family Friendly Employer

We echo CIPD’s call and as a result of our own findings we have produced a ‘How to be a Family Friendly Employer’ guide which outlines the business benefits of offering family friendly policies and steps which employers can take to create a positive organisational culture. A link to download is available in the downloads section.