Work Life Balance

work life balance pic

Balancing work with the rest of our lives is something that we all have to do. There's no doubt that the way that our working life is organised makes a difference to how we manage our lives and how we feel about work.
 
Working longer and longer hours is not good for business – or for you. Worrying about childcare will only add to your stress levels. Returning to work too soon or too long after the birth of your child, or after any major stressful event in your life, is likely to take its toll in the end.
 
Work-Life Balance policies and best practices are not just about families and childcare. Nor is it about working less. It's about striking the right balance between what you can achieve at work and at home and being fresh enough to give your best to all areas of your life. It's necessary for us all at whatever stage in our lives.
 
Increasingly, employers are developing a wide range of work-life balance options, covering flexible working arrangements and flexible benefit packages. Here are just a few:Flexi-time allows employees to vary their working hours within specified limits from day to day and week to week, and a certain number of hours can be carried forward from one period to another with the option of flexi-leave for time accrued.
 
Part-time working may involve a later start and earlier finish than full-time positions, working mornings or afternoons only, working fewer days in the week, or any other arrangement of working time whereby the employee is contracted to work less than normal basic full-time hours.
 
Staggered hours means employees can all have different start, finish and break times, although they do not usually reduce their normal working hours and do not accrue extra hours. This allows employers to cover longer opening hours. It also offers employees more flexibility, as long as they're consulted first.
 
Time off in lieu is when employees take time off in agreement with managers, to make up for extra hours worked. It's often used to compensate employees who attend meetings in the evenings.
 
Compressed working hours lets people work their total number of hours over fewer days. For example, you can work four days a week instead of five, or work nine days a fortnight instead of ten. With shift-working, employers can extend the use of their plant or facilities by letting staff work one after another through a 24 hour period. Some businesses are realising that longer opening hours and more flexible shifts mean everyone has more choice.
 
Shift swapping lets staff negotiate their working times by re-arranging shifts among themselves, whilst keeping the needs of the business or service in mind.
 
Self-rostering involves working out the number of staff and type of skills needed each day, then letting employees put forward the times they would like to work. Shift patterns are then compiled, matching staff preferences to the agreed staffing levels as closely as possible. Self-rostering is used in some hospitals and care services.
 
Annualised hours means that total working hours are calculated over a year rather than a week. This means hours can be varied throughout the year to meet both production demands and employee's personal needs. The employee's salary is usually paid in equal installments regardless of the amount of time the employee has worked that period.
 
Job-sharing involves two part time employees sharing the duties of a post normally done by one. There is no set model for managing time, which may involve working a set number of hours each day, each week or alternate weeks. Job sharers divide pay, holiday and other benefits.
 
Term-time working enables an employee to remain on a permanent contract but also be able to take paid or unpaid leave during school holidays.
 
Working from home has been made easier due to technological advances, and has become more popular over the last few years. It is possible for all kinds of work. Examples are: assembly work, sewing, or providing a personal service to paid consultants working with new technology. Some employees, such as service engineers, are mobile, others work in their home.
 
Tele-working involves working at home, and using a telephone and computer to keep in touch with work.
 
Voluntary reduced work time this is a voluntary arrangement whereby the employee reduces the number of hours worked for an agreed period only, with a guarantee that full-time employment will be available again at the end of this period.
 
Career breaks are extended periods of unpaid leave, most frequently used for child care. Employees are required to resign, but are given a commitment by employers that they will be allowed to return.
 
Sabbaticals are a form of career break or extended leave with pay which some large companies use to reward employees for long service.
 
Flexible and cafeteria benefits include childcare information or vouchers, funding and time off for learning, pension or insurance contributions, laundry services, use of staff facilities, and in-house medical and dental care. 'Cafeteria benefits' means a person can pick and choose those benefits that best suit their needs.
 
Consider a part-time school nursery place for your child or find information about full or part time childminder place here.
 
For more information about work-life balance visit www.workingfamilies.org.uk