August 24, 2009

Human Resource Management Lesson 8 Excercise

1. With reference to your own experience, criticaly evaluate the idea that there is a business case for family friendly working practices.

There are a few interlinked elements which need to be considered which would determine the idea “business case” for family friendly working practices (FFWP);

  1. Dual Burden
  2. Job Satisfaction
  3. Legislation
  4. Employee’s Voice à Works Council
  5. Challenges for Employers
  6. Impact from Recession
  7. Role of Line Manager
  8. Conclusion

[1] “Dual Burden”

This is faced by women who  combine paid employment (or are forced) with an extensive commitment to caring for other family member (Crompton et al, 2005).

This creates a significant pressure on managing both the domestic and professional needs which can often lead to conflicts and negatively affect the “relationships”.

As a result of this Legislation and more modern work arrangements are implemented, such

  • working from home 
  • job-sharing
  • teleworking
  • term-time working
  • compressed hours
  • flexitime
  • staggered hours
  • annualised hours
  • self-rostering.

[2] Job Satisfaction;

As per “Working Life; Employee attitudes and engagement 2006, London, CIPD – “Hours of Work” was the second highest on components on Job Satisfaction.

As per Maslow (1943) and Herzberg (1966) – Social Needs can include that of caring for the dependants and other family members, which would require some form of “flexibility in working hours”

Fulfilling this need will boost Job Satisfaction and have positive impact on performance, hence also providing a benefit for the employer                                             


As per Elton Mayo , "The Workplace is a social system" - The worker is a person whose attitudes and effectiveness are conditioned by social demands from both inside and outside the work plant. This statement amplifies the need to have a "social friendly" environment that stimulates postive morale.

[3] Legislation in the 90’s

As a result of Legislation, employers need to be complaint and introduce several FFWP policies and given the recession where most employers are looking at “cost reduction” and improving Operational Efficiencies, we could see potential conflicts in application of such policies, which could have serious implication if employers refuse to approve to requests or find arguments to reject them, which in return will have negative impact on morale and job satisfaction, hence HR to be instrumental in coordinating the FFWP strategy

[4] Employee’s Voice à European Works Council

Several EU Works Councils (EWC) Directives will from a holistic point ensure that employees are being given the opportunity to have “Flexible” working hours, or improvied “Work Life Balance” situations, the EWC which in most companies would exist provide the “voice” of the employee and rather than having to deal with on conflicting basis with the employer, the employee can turn to the EWC and the employer would receive the directions/confirmation to “accept” the request of the employee. From experience point of view, maternity and paternity was introduced in the 90’s and was widely used by parents, including myself.

[5] Challenges for the employer

Integrating FFWP into the organisation will require HR fulfil the “game changer” role as this is clearly where the added value of HR would be appreciated by employees and policies will need to be clearly published/communicated and updated for employees to have a clear understanding (unambiguously) of which elements of FFWP are available. With the Works Council playing a key role in compliance of FFWP (at least in The Netherlands) the earlier requirements from HR perspective are critical ones.

For a large organisations this is easier to incorporate in the “day-2-day” workload/schedules, as in case of emergency there would be someone to support the request, without having to increase the staffing levels on a structured basis, here is where "economies of scales" works in favor large organisations.

However for a small organisation implementing FFWP would be challenging and even result in disproportionate higher costs, due to lack of economies of scale, which in return can result in the employer turning down a request

Employer to be Being Complaint !!

An employer may only turn down a request for flexible working on one or more of a number of ‘business’ grounds. These are:

  • burden of additional costs;
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet
  • customer demand
  • inability to reorganise work among
  • existing staff
  • inability to recruit additional staff
  • detrimental impact on quality
  • detrimental impact on performance
  • insufficiency of work during the periods
  • the employee proposes to workplanned structural changes

[6] Impact of Recession

The current recession is not provide for the best financial climate to implement a wide range of FFWP, due to impact on both bottom line and organisational structure.

Management is under such conditions more focussed in “Fight For Survival” and creating Operational Efficiencies.

The Classical FFWP could mean that someone works from Monday till Thursday and has Friday’s off, which means that any questions on Friday will have to wait till Monday, however if such questions are urgent or strategic it could be a challenge to answer them.

Based on the above, larger firms with a more stable financial outlook and an HR function which has fully incorporated the FFWP into the organisation will face little challenges despite the recession as economies of scale would allow for “stand-in” (emergency situations)

[7] Role of Line Manager

With the devolvement of HR roles to Line Manager, this is one of the most critical elements where the Role of the Line Manager becomes clear, as he/she will be responsible for ensuring the employee’s morale and job satisfaction are high and also support the employees in their effort to reaching the maximum of their professional potential, whilst at the same time implement FFWP.

This will require a great level of creativity and flexibility and huge amount of people’s skills from the Line Manager.

[8] Conclusion;

In IBM “Ron Glover” is the HR Vice President of Diversity and Workforce Programmes, which as per the webcast shown below demonstrates that IBM has a process that facilitates FFWP, however local culture and enforceable legislation will determine the level to which extent FFWP has been implemented and integrated into the organisation.

With IBM having a “Sophisticated Human Relation” Management style combining that with HR being a change maker in such “high visibility” issues where Diversity is wide advocated, employees are now able to ocnsult either Local HR or Regional or Global Function for guidance.

Taken from the IBM Intranet site on "working from home - connectivity" the first line clearly states “Discuss the options with your manager.”, which confirms the fact that the HR role also in the context has devolved to the Line Manager.

Incorporating the above 7 points into what IBM is advocating in terms of FFWP, I would say that there is a business case for FFWP.

                     Lesson 8 - Glover VP

The first point clearly states "Discuss the option with your Manager"

                     Lesson 8 - Mobility Connectivity


Marchington, M. and Wilkinson, A., "Human Resource Management at Work" (4th edn), London:CIPD

Storey, J (1992) – Development in the Management of Human Resources

Truss C., Soane E., Edwards C., Wisdom K., Croll A., and Burnmett J. (2006) - “Working Life; Employee attitudes and engagement 2006, London, CIPD – “Hours of Work”

Purcell, J (1986) Employee Relations Autonomy Within a Corporate Culture – Personnel Management, February

IBM Intranet - Permanently working from home – Mobility  []

IBM Intranet Integrating Work and Life - The "New Normal" - []

Worksmart (TUC) -

Maslow (1943) and Herzberg (1966)

The Hawthorne Effect - Mayo Studies in Employee Motivation -

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Kim White

    Hi Steve,

    I don’t think you need too much further feedback from me. You need to add in the theories as I have suggested and make sure you insert the appropriate references throughout. There is nothing really for me to add except that I would encourage you to think in terms of these models as an on-going understanding of your working environment. It works for me.

    Good luck with the remainder of your studies.


    24 Aug 2009, 21:33

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