|Having a better work-life balance is
no doubt good for employees. But is it good for business? It is
– as long as it’s managed properly, according to leading
organisations that have implemented flexible working with
work-life balance in mind.
When Balfour Beatty Civil
Engineering Major Projects surveyed their employees two years
ago, it found that an overwhelming majority liked working for
the company but that for 62%, work-life balance was a problem.
“I love my job and feel proud when I drive past a bridge and
know that I helped to build it” says engineer Chris Till, “but I
live in Preston and working on the M1/M25 means I live on site
during the week and it can take me four hours to get home on a
Balfour Beatty took these concerns seriously. “We are always
striving to improve both our service to our customers and the
well-being of our employees”, said Commercial Director, Nigel
Roberts. “A contented workforce leads to better productivity and
fewer accidents on site”.
The Company employed flexible working specialists, Swiftwork,
to help improve work-life balance. Working initially with the
project team on the M1 construction site, the concept was
tested. “We had to be clear that the business case for this
significant culture change was sound”, says Nigel Roberts. “We
wanted to ensure that performance was maintained and that our
customers and suppliers needs were met. But we were also hoping
that this would have a positive impact on recruitment and
retention in an increasingly competitive market for highly
Following a senior manager workshop, schemes were developed
by local teams, to target specific work and individual
requirements. Each team devised new ways of working that suited
its business needs. Most were variations on flexitime and, for
some, compressed hours over the working week were introduced.
One team developed cross-skilling to offer a broader depth of
service to internal clients across the whole day. Cost savings
were also made to night services supplied using a flexitime
scheme that had previously been provided by an external
For Balfour Beatty, the business case is proven. “We have
realised operational improvements in efficiency,” says Nigel
Roberts, “for example, there is better interdependence and
communication between teams, time recording is better, health
and safety cover has increased - not decreased - with more
flexibility. Now we’re hoping to build on this and develop even
smarter ways of working”.
Lynette Swift, of consultants Swiftwork, is confident that
new ways of working have huge potential for achieving
productivity gains and reducing costs. “If it’s not improving
performance, you’re not managing it right,” she says. “To
succeed, new initiatives should be people driven but also
business focused, not just about acceding to individual requests
for flexible work patterns”.
is not only about office workers
|It is one of the myths or misperceptions
about flexible work that it only applies to desk-based jobs.
In this case study we profile the construction giants
Balfour Beatty, who wanted to address the work-life balance
issues of their motorway construction employees.
Aided by specialists
Swiftwork, they adopted a measured and systematic
approach to aligning better business performance with
work-life balance initiatives.