A Review of the Evidence Regarding Work Life Policies

A review of research and government and industry reports regarding the impacts of work life polices such as flexible working arrangments on personal and individual outcomes.

This study was one of the four core programs undertaken as part of the Gender Equality Project and was published in July 2012. It was completed while the CEL was located at Melbourne Business School, and as such some of the periphery information regarding the CEL (such as contact details) may have since changed.

Executive Summary

Interest in work-life policies and flexible working arrangements has dramatically increased over the last two decades, in large part due to the rise in dual career families with children and the increasing number of workers with carer responsibilities.

This report includes a summary of research from seven meta analyses and 10 reports prepared by government and industry that examine the impacts of work life policies on work-family conflict levels and on a range of individual and organisational outcomes including job satisfaction, attendance, retention and productivity. A series of case studies that include evaluations of the impacts of programs are also provided.

The evidence is clear that a large proportion of workers want flexible work arrangements and that flexible working can have a wide range of benefits, if the programs are implemented well. It is surmised that the lack of acceptance of flexible working and the negative attitudes of peers towards those who work flexibly may be a product of poor implementation.

We recommend that:

  1. the introduction of any flexible working arrangements be based on a diagnosis of the suitability of the particular arrangements for the work setting, as well as the preferences of the individual workers
  2.  that peers be involved in the diagnosis and design of flexible work arrangements
  3. that implementation of flexible work arrangements include pilot testing, training, review and follow up plus a set of guidelines regarding control, appraisal, security, technology, OH&S and other considerations.

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