Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Work-life balance, travel-to-work, and the dual career household

an article by Dan Wheatley (Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University) published in Personnel Review Volume 41 Issue 6 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the underlying conflicts associated with current work-life balance and travel-to-work policies, as employed in organisations in the UK.
A mixed method approach is used to ascertain whether professional work-group cultures limit the effectiveness of work-life balance policy, and the extent to which spill-over is present between work-life balance and transport preferences, especially car use. These concerns are explored empirically using an in-depth local level quantitative-qualitative case study of Greater Nottingham (a regional employment centre in the East Midlands region of England).
The evidence presented in this paper suggests:
work-group cultures prevent employees, especially women, from achieving work-life balance;
there is spill-over between work and non-work activities, creating time allocation challenges, and stress, for dual career households attempting to achieve desired work-life balance; and
specific conflicts are reported in balancing work with travel-to-work, especially car parking.
Practical implications
The research findings suggest that transport, especially employee car parking, needs to be considered a focal point in the planning and implementation of human resource (HR) policies. Employers also need to reconsider their approach to flexible working to dissolve the negative repercussions that the “choice” to work flexibly has for the careers of highly skilled workers, especially working mothers. Increases in formalised home-based teleworking, restructuring the gender balance in management, and positive discrimination toward certain groups offer potential routes for change.
This paper provides important recommendations for employers and HR managers, designing and implementing work-life balance policies. Transport issues, presently considered largely external from the employer perspective, have central relevance.

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