An alien concept - work-life balance

PUBLISHED: 14:09 18 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 May 2010

Can you get the balance right?

Can you get the balance right?

WHAT sort of things do you take into account when deciding where you would like to work? How friendly the place seems perhaps, or what kind of pension scheme the company offers? Or maybe it all hangs on how many days holiday you would be entitled to, or w

WHAT sort of things do you take into account when deciding where you would like to work? How friendly the place seems perhaps, or what kind of pension scheme the company offers?

Or maybe it all hangs on how many days holiday you would be entitled to, or whether there is any help available for childcare?

Well, according to new research by the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), one thing you should certainly be considering is size.

Because it seems that not only does size really matter, but big most definitely means best.

That's because, overall, larger organisations look after their staff better than smaller ones, researchers say.

Their findings suggest that large companies with a wide global reach, that are managed well, provide a happier work-life balance for their employees and the key to successful management is allowing staff to work 'smarter', not 'harder'.

Yet the report says well managed firms aren't necessarily more productive, but that it's more a case of them providing better work-life balance for their staff.

The CEP surveyed over 700 companies in France, Germany, the UK and the US and found that good people management - such as fostering talent, rewarding and retaining staff who perform well and offering training opportunities - were likely to be found in conjunction with good work-life practices.

Another interesting finding, although one that's perhaps not entirely unexpected, is that the share of women in management relative to non-management was significantly higher in firms with a better work-life balance.

Meanwhile, the hours worked by both managers and their staff in firms that were managed well, were not significantly higher than those in badly run firms.

The results of the CEP survey fly in the face of commentators and critics who are constantly shouting about competition and globalisation being bad for work-life balance.

Indeed, researchers say their findings show no relationship between tougher competition and work-life balance, and no relationship between productivity and work-life balance, once good management was taken into account.

"It simply is not true that globalisation is such a disaster for employees," said co-author of the report, Dr Nick Bloom.

"Employees in larger, more globalised firms seem to be much better off in terms of their working lives than those in smaller, more national firms."

In conclusion, the report said a good and fair work-life balance did not impact on productivity and was obviously socially desirable because workers aspired towards it.

Another of the report's authors, Professor John Van Reenen, said that a good work-life balance seemed to be something that well run firms were doing naturally.

"They need to treat their employees well to keep them - if not, their competitors will hire them away," he explained.

"Government policies on work-life balance should take this into account."

So it looks like there is more to life than merely the superficial things, that might be at the front of your mind, when hunting down good jobs and seeking promising career prospected.

So it's true then. Size really does matter.

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