Work-life balance policies, practices and discourse and public sector cuts

Anderson, Deirdre, Lewis, Suzan ORCID logoORCID:, Lyonette, C., Payne, Nicola ORCID logoORCID: and Wood, S. (2013) Work-life balance policies, practices and discourse and public sector cuts. In: The BPS Division of Occupational Psychology Conference 2013: Connecting and contributing to make a difference, 09-11 Jan 2013, Chester, UK. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


Organizational pressures during the current economic crisis, particularly austerity measures in the public sector, may pose threats to employer support for work-life balance (WLB). Alternatively, established flexible working arrangements may be used to manage austerity cuts. This qualitative study contributes to debates about institutional and economic factors influencing the adoption of WLB initiatives and extends the literature beyond the usual focus on formal policies, by additionally exploring associated discourses and practices. Twenty-six senior HR professionals from a range of public sector organizations were interviewed about the resilience and potential benefits of WLB initiatives. Thematic analysis of interview data identified an evolving WLB discourse, with a shifting emphasis from fairness-led and mutual flexibility to a more explicit employer, efficiency-led focus. Traditional policies were thought to be embedded within organizations but concerns were expressed about management resistance and long-term sustainability. When examining how WLB initiatives can help in managing cuts, participants discussed how traditional WLB policies and evolved practices can a) enhance efficiency and b) help to avoid redundancies. However there was some ambivalence regarding these benefits, as savings mainly applied to employer-led evolved practices and some of these practices may threaten employee well-being and service provision.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations
A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 11105
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Nicola Payne
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2013 05:11
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2020 03:58

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.