Centre for Diversity Policy Research
An audit of staff experience at Oxford Brookes University
By Simonetta Manfredi and Michelle Holliday
The Centre for Diversity Policy Research, Oxford Brookes University
Work-Life Balance: An audit of staff experience at Oxford Brookes University ISBN 1 873576 70 6
Published by The Centre for Diversity Policy Research, Oxford Brookes University Wheatley Campus Oxon. OX33 1HX http://www.brookes.ac.uk/business/research/cdpr DiversityCentre@brookes.ac.uk
All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism and review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data. A catalogue record of this publication is available from the British Library.
Printed in Great Britain 2004.
Authors: Simonetta Manfredi Co-Director, The Centre for Diversity Policy Research, Oxford Brookes University Michelle Holliday Equal Opportunities & Diversity Co-Ordinator, Oxford Brookes University
Work-Life Balance: An audit of staff experience at Oxford Brookes University Page no.
Contents Acknowledgements Executive Summary
1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 2 2.1 2.2 2.3 3 3.1 3.2 Introduction: Purpose of the report What is work-life balance? Why does work-life balance matter to employers?
Why is work-life balance important to Oxford Brookes University? 9 Section two: The Audit Results of the Questionnaires Results of the Focus Groups Section three: Conclusions The Implications for Oxford Brookes University of further developing work-life balance policies and flexible working arrangements 52 55 57 58 60 13 13 15 33 46
Recommendations The way forward
Acknowledgments The authors of this report wish to thank all the colleagues who kindly accepted to take part in this study. They would also like to express their appreciation to Bob Price, Director of Human Resources, Sara Wylde, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Co-ordinator, for their support and valuable feedback throughout the course of this study, to Dr. Liz Doherty for her expert advice and to Emma Williams for her contribution to the data collection. Executive Summary. 1.1 This report presents the findings of a university-wide audit that was carried out to gain information on staff experience of work-life balance policies and practices at Brookes. The audit was conducted through a staff survey and a series of focus groups. The report also outlines the meaning of work-life balance in the context of employment relations and the importance of work-life balance for employers. 1.2 The concept of work-life balance is based on the notion that paid work and personal life should be seen less as competing priorities than as complementary elements of a full life. It is important for employers to support work-life balance to comply with legal requirements that afford working parents the right to request to work flexibly, to promote equality of opportunities by ensuring that staff with caring responsibilities are not disadvantaged in the workplace, and to widen access to paid work and career opportunities. 1.3 There is also a strong business case in support of work-life balance. Evidence from independent research as well as from employers’ own assessments of flexible working practices shows that helping staff to strike a balance between paid work and personal life can lead to improved recruitment and retention, reduction of absenteeism, and an improved staff commitment and productivity. 1.4 A self-completion questionnaire focusing on issues surrounding work-life balance was distributed to all university staff. The questionnaire was designed to: • Elicit...