There are now over three million employees who are regular night-workers in the UK – an increase of 6.9% between 2007 and 2014.
In 2014, 14.9% of male employees were night workers, this is compared to 9.7% of female employees. However, the number of women working nights has grown at a faster rate: 12% since 2007 for women, as opposed to a 4% increase in regular night working for men.
There are negative health implications for those who work nights, such as heightened risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. Less attention has been given to the impacts on home life, relationships and work-life balance.
A new report from the TUC demonstrates that night working can increase the risk of relationship problems, can affect the emotional well being of a night worker’s children, and is associated with higher childcare costs. However, these negative impacts can be mitigated when employees have more influence and control over their shift patterns.
Employers must properly consider and address all the implications for staff of night working and how best to mitigate negative outcomes. Decisions to extend night working need to involve consultation and negotiation with workers’ representatives to ensure fair and safe outcomes.
Younger generations of workers – so called ‘Millennials’ – are used to constantly using new communications technology to constant keep up-to-date with social media and personal email. This has also come to mean that monitoring work emails outside office hours has become routine – blurring the boundaries between work and personal life. A majority of 18-34 year old workers in one survey said that answering work email during dinner way OK, versus only 22% of workers age 55-64.
However, there are signs that younger workers are dissatisfied with the effects of a constant digital connection to their workplace on their work-life balance. This will have implications for employers as younger workers are the most active employee group in seeking better work-life balance; they are the most likely group to move jobs, relocate home or take a pay-cut for better balance and work flexibility.
To attract and retain the best talent, employers will need to better adapt to the demands of these workers who want work-life balance. Examples of how this is being done include shifting management focus from requiring attendance in the office, to looking at ways of allowing workers the flexibility to be work productively. Importantly, this means putting high-levels of trust in workers.
Read more at TIME.
Despite the popularity, and range, of discussion about flexible working it remains viewed as something pursued only by those without ambition.
That is, flexible working is viewed, simply, as working less. This is problematic as contemporary work cultures still reward working long hours, “as if our achievements are somehow less impressive if we haven’t sweated blood and sacrificed our sanity, health and home life to get there”.
The stereotypical flexible worker tends to be a parent (usually a mother) trying to adapt their work schedules with childcare. However, there is a larger pool of people who don’t have family commitments and don’t want to cut their hours, but who would still like to take advantage of flexible working practices and benefits it could bring to their personal and working lives.
Yet, while flexible working remains seen as a second-class option it will not deliver its potential in promoting employee retention and productivity. Workplaces need to undergo a cultural change wherein mere ‘presenteeism’ isn’t accord special significance over more meaningful measures of employee achievement at work.
Read more at The Guardian.
Barbara Hobson draws on the research of a team within a large European Network of Excellence, Reconciling work and welfare (RECWOWE), many of whom are authors in the recent book, Worklife Balance: The Agency and Capabilities Gap, focusing on the individual/household, firm and managerial level and welfare state policy context across European countries and Japan. In this post she discusses the choices faced by those who seek to take advantage of work-life balance policies. Continue reading
Employers are failing to overtly offer prospective employees flexible working options, and this is causing a ‘talent bottleneck’. While 46% of people in employment in the UK want some kind of flexible working, only 6% of vacancy listings specify flexible options.
So few job adverts mention flexible working that 77% of flexible workers feel trapped in their current role – halting career progression. Moreover, those seeking flexible work ‘trade down’, 41% of flexible workers taking employment below their skill or salary level in order to get the flexibility they need.
Research shows that 52% of those looking for flexible work feel nervous to ask for flexibility when it isn’t specified in the advert; 43% fear asking will damage their chances of getting the job.
By not being proactive in opening jobs to those seeking flexible work, employers are cutting themselves off from some of the best available talent
Read more at Timewise.
Research at a global strategy consulting firm with a strong US presence found that many men are dissatisfied with the expectation that they perform the role of the ‘ideal worker’ who is fully devoted to, and available for, the job, with no personal responsibilities or interests that interfere with this commitment to work.
To deal with their dissatisfaction some men made discrete changes to still ‘pass’ as ideal workers. Others, who asked for help from managers and colleagues, often faced marginalisation in the workplace.
While attempting to covertly ‘pass’ as the ideal worker may seem preferably, this has several drawbacks: it involves deception between employers and employees; it’s a strategy that isn’t open to everyone, and; it perpetuates myths about the best workers being the ones who apparently work longest.
Read more at Harvard Business Review.
The downsides of email now outweigh the benefits as they promote unmanageable workloads and supplant face-to-face discussions. Moreover, these negative impacts extend beyond the workplace and into workers’ homes. New technology encourages checking and replying to email while not at work, with consequences for individuals’ quality of life.
Employers have a role to play in helping employees manage email and encourage use that doesn’t negative affect work-life balance. Guidelines should discourage email use while not working, avoid unnecessarily including too many people in group emails, and to prefer face-to-face meetings between colleagues in the same building.
Read more at The Guardian.
A recent survey of professional women found that just 14% would list ‘work-life balance‘ as a benchmark of success, while 44% wanted job satisfaction and 34% wanted to be able to assume leadership roles and define their company’s direction. It thus suggests that it is ‘not more time that women want, it’s more power’.
The assumption that women want better work-life balance is linked to a kind of ‘benevolent sexism’ wherein women are assumed to be, and to want to be, primary childcare providers. However, this may not be the case. While understanding that the pressures parents face can be important for organisations, it is important that these are not assumed to be women’s issues. Organisations need to approach issues of childcare and work-life balance to allow equal participation of men and women at work and in the home.
Read more at The Guardian.
This article notes that the last five years have seen an increase in policies providing access to flexible work in Australia. However, it points to new research that suggests policies are not being used effectively.
It suggests that the disconnect between the policy and the practice is a result of a lack of awareness among both employees and managers about the how flexible working policies are meant to operate. It notes that mangers, as gatekeepers, are blocking access to flexible work as they lack understanding of how to operationalise policy. Moreover, employee’s lack of awareness as to their entitlements also poses a barrier to access.
Read more on Women’s Agenda.
A new survey reports on employer and employee perceptions of work-life balance and flexible working.
It notes that 67% of employers feel workers have work-life balance, while nearly half (45%) of employees disagree. Similarly, while 50% of employers ranked workplace flexibility as the most important benefit they believe their employees desire, it was the highest priority for 75% of employees.
It also found that 65% of employees are expected to be reachable outside of the office. A similar number of employers (64%) reported that they expect their employees to be reachable outside of the office on their personal time.
Read more at CareerArc.