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Organisations that negotiate innovative work practices which also benefit staff are forward-looking, competitive and profitable. They regard job security and responding to the needs of employees as a priority.
Work-life balance is central to positive flexibility in the organisation of work. But to be successful and achieve a win-win outcome for staff and management everyone affected must have the opportunity to participate actively in the process of change.
Flexibility can mean management imposing forms of work organisation on employees who are given no opportunity to state their opinions or explain their needs. Positive flexibility is where working people have more autonomy and choice, and where the employer invests in development and training and works in partnership with the workforce.
This version of flexibility produces a skilled and adaptable workforce, meeting the employers needs for competitiveness, whilst also increasing workers’ security.
Achieving work-life balance requires management and unions to work together in partnership. A genuine partnership has:
- a shared commitment to the success of the organisation
- a commitment by the employer to employment security
- a focus on the quality of working life
- recognition of the legitimate roles of the employer and the trade union
- openness on both sides and a willingness by the employer to share information and discuss the future plans for the organisation
- added value – a shared understanding that the partnership is delivering measurable improvements for the employer, the union and employees.
The case studies show how working in partnership can achieve positive flexibility:
- Croydon Primary Care Trust: establishing “changing times champions” NEW!
- Newcastle Building Society: extending flexible working NEW!
- Organon Research Scotland: staff retention through flexible working NEW!
- Rochdale Borough Council: flexible work options dramatically reduce sicknessNEW!
- Bristol City Council: the TUC Time of Our Lives project
- Playtex: hooked on flexitime
- Solaglas: taking flexibility to the customer
- Lloyds TSB: individual work options
- Redditch Council: adapting to the seasons
- J. Sainsbury: meeting the demographic challenge
- BP: reducing hours flexibly
Other case studies:
The Work Foundation has produced a set in-depth Employers for Work-Life Balance case studies of organisations of varying sizes, which have developed successful work-life strategies in response to a wide range of issues.