Importance of work/life balance

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There is a growing desire to achieve a good work/life balance. With little spare time on their hands (see time and energy deficit), increasing numbers of people value having a good quality of life (see focus on well-being) over earning large amounts of money.

What are the implications?

  • An increase in flexible and part-time working patterns possibly backed up by further legislation.
  • A trend towards ‘downshifting’ to the VCS from the private sector as individuals increasingly come to value a better quality of life over high salaries.
  • Increased personal and social mobility as flexible work arrangements permit more frequent movement.
  • An increase in female and older workers as flexible working arrangements attract them to the sector.
  • More complex human resource management to achieve more effective knowledge management and improved sustainability.

Moving forward

Increasing competition from other sectors and changing lifestyles means that organisations will have to offer a wider breadth of employment and volunteering opportunities.

  • What flexible working arrangements can you put in place to attract a diversity of employees (e.g. more women or the elderly)?
  • As competition for skilled staff continues, can your organisation emphasise its competitive advantage and attract staff from other sectors by highlighting the flexible working opportunities and work-life balance that your organisation provides?

A rise in the number of part-time workers may cause increased complexity for human resources management.

  • What training or structures can your organisation put in place to facilitate the effective transfer of knowledge management with larger numbers of workers?

Want to know more?

Changes in working trends over the past decade

Published by: Office for National Statistics – a Government Department

Date: 2004

Format: PDF

What is it? A statistical analysis of employment patterns in the UK and internationally.

How useful is this? A good source of statistics on changing patterns or working including: part time work; temporary work; shift work; and flexible working patterns.  It includes information on why people work particular patterns, and focuses particularly on women and the UK.

Other comments:

Changing our world: a report on balancing work and home in the voluntary sector

Published by: Working Families – a work-life balance charity

Date: 2005

Format: PDF

What is it? A report on how voluntary sector employment practices have responded to the work-life balance agenda, including statistics and analysis.

How useful is this? A useful report, including several case exemplars, focusing specifically on the voluntary sector and work-life balance.  It looks at current practice including areas such as: the spread of work-life balance; the long hours culture; and what support organisations require.  It identifies ways forward and makes recommendations for voluntary organisations and funders.

Other comments:

Work Life Balance 

Published by: SCVO

Date: Unknown

Format: Web

What is it? A short guide to achieving work life balance in the voluntary sector.

How useful is this? This is useful as a practical guide and as a starting point to understanding wider issues around work life balance.  This guide looks at: the place of work-life balance on the Government’s policy agenda; cost implications; the benefits of work-life balance; and legislation.

Other comments:

 Attitudes To Work And Play Is Changing

Published by: IPSOS-MORI – a large research company with a specialism public affairs

Date: 1997

Format: Web

What is it? A statistical analysis of the demands of balancing career and home life for 16-35 year old professionals.

How useful is this? Although a very short article this does provide some useful statistics including on who is most likely to worry about having little time outside of work and how highly work-life balance is valued

Other comments:


Last updated at 16:05 Wed 23/Feb/11.

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Helen's picture


Guest specialist

There is emerging need amongst Chief Executives for executive coaching which can provide a space for reflection on work issues and behaviours but which is often unavailable as a ‘space’ at work or home.

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How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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