Dr Al James’ new RGS-IBG book finds that the provision of working arrangements that meaningfully improve the work-life balance of employees also enhances firms’ competitive advantage.
Based on 10 years of research with over 300 IT workers at 150 different high-tech companies in the UK and Ireland, Dr James (University of Newcastle) found that progress in employers providing comprehensive suites of work-life arrangements remains uneven, resulting in continuing hardship for many employees and ongoing gender inequalities in the labour market. In particular, Dr James’ research revealed that half of women working in IT in Dublin and a third of those in Cambridge are unsatisfied with their work-life balance.
However, Dr James also found that employer interventions that meaningfully improve the work-life balance of employees enhance firms’ learning and innovation capacities, and long-term sustainable competitive advantage. Not least by reducing the number of women who choose not to return to work after maternity leave.
Dr James said: “The results highlight the irony of employers rolling back work-life provision in pursuit of short-term savings. There is an urgent need for more comprehensive employer‐provided work‐life balance packages that respond to the variations in employees’ requirements according to their role, household situation, caring responsibilities and personal life interests. These are not merely costs to the firm, but also offer major advantages for firms’ competitive performance”, said Dr James.
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Written by Martin Evans, Professor of Geomorphology, School of Environment, University of Manchester
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Chris Ewing is Head of Client Management at Aon Impact Forecasting in London.
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