Critically evaluate the belief that family friendly policies are not fundamentally challenging existing organisational structures and cultures

Essay 2012 19 Pages

Business economics - Business Management, Corporate Governance


Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

1. Introduction

2. Main Body
2.1 Family Friendly Policies
2.2 Organisational Structure
2.3 Organisational Culture
2.4 Argumentative Discussion

3. Conclusion

4. List of References

5. Appendix

List of Figures

Figure 1: Eurostat (2012): EU (27 Countries) employment rate by gender age group 15-64. Own created figure

Figure 2: Options for organisational structure. Mintzberg (1979) cited in Simms and Sinclair-Hunt, 2005, p.6.

List of Tables

Table 1: Eurostat: EU (27 Countries) employment rate by gender age group 15-64. Own created table

1. Introduction

It is generally agreed today that working is not the only essential part in life for a human being, rather it is aimed to have both fulfilment within the family, partner or in the social structure andrealisation of the personal career goals to reach a life in balance. Furthermore, in times of globalisation related to the increasing international division of labour, skills shortage and the demographic change mean a shift in our common understanding that leads to changing notions not only in an economical point of view but also in a socio-cultural perspective of each individual. In addition to that,companies connect their key to success with a high motivated and passionateemployee;to emphasise high commitment sustainably. Thus, family friendly policies (FFP) findtheir way into the business sectorto achieve growing commitment of their workforce internally due to changing work rules or externally, with state intervention in shape of statutory provisions. Moreover, FFP areindicated to alter the existing culture and corporative structure in an unprecedented way which is discussed in sciences, economics and politics widely.

The main question which arises is: DoFFP havedirect influence on a business entity to alter the organisational structure or even the whole culture and what are the characteristics of those in a more detailed consideration?

This essay spars with the topic:

Critically evaluate the belief that family friendly policies are not fundamentally

challenging existing organisational structures and cultures;

in reality “they are playing around at the margins”

The structure of this essay relates to FFP within the business environment and their importance to proof the belief, that they are not changing the existing organisational structure and culture. The main body is separated into four parts. Firstly, this essay will examine the key traits of family friendly policies. Secondly, this essay will consider the term organisational structure and thirdly, the term organisational culture to face the issue of the study. The last chapter of the main body will reveal arguments on the basis of advantages and disadvantages in terms of an argumentative discussion.

Finally, the conclusion summarises the main arguments and gives a firm stand.

2. Main Body

‘The secret of all victory lies in the organisation of the non-obvious’

(Marcus Aurelius, 16th Roman Emperor, 121–180 AD)

According to a quotation by Marcus Aurelius cited in Young (2008, p.179) the citationhighlights a good example of the idea of successful organisations in two different aspects. On the one hand, there was the meaning that Roman legions had to reconsider and readjust their war strategies and techniques to battle against the different enemies in the age of the Roman Empire. On the other hand, this quotation provides a concrete example of how the contemporary business world should treat their employees – as a central key figure for sustained success and profitable growth and thus, the individual culture and organisational structure play a major role in the business scenario.

2.1 Family Friendly Policies

Family friendly policies or family friendly programs are basically created to meet the family needs of each employee which is sponsored and supported by the employer (Grandey, 2001, pp.145-146). These policies are generally designed to help and support the employee to have work and life in balance (Lewis, 1997, p.12).Clark (2000, p.751) defines work-life balance as ‘satisfaction and good functioning at work and at home, with a minimum of role conflict’. Moreover and in accordance to UNICEF (2006, p.46), the argument for this increasing interest is that gender equality due to a changing work structure cannot be guaranteed in a more globalised world anymore. Furthermore, one should not forget that the demographic change and labour market shift in Western countries provoke the implementation of FFP by varied national and regional policies (Callan, 2007, p.674). However, Ackers and El-Sawad (2006, p.331) point out that the role of FFP as central issue emerged in the 1990s when the EU created regional policies to support families and to face the growing share of working females in the business sector. To underline this fact one need only refer to a research by Eurostat (2012) in which the employment rate per gender in the age group 15-64 was examined.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Eurostat (2012): EU (27 Countries) employment rate by gender age group 15-64. Own created figure.

As shown in figure 1, the percentage of females within the business sector increased from 1997 to 2010 from 51.4% to 58.2%. In contrast, the share of men’s employment rate rose only from 70.0% to 70.1% in 2010.

However, Ackers and El-Sawad (2006) state that in recent years a new shift put the father’s role within the family at the centre of consideration. Likewise and beyond that, new issues regarding an ageing society and the politics of elder care have been examined. In addition to that, Ackers and El-Sawad(2006, p.331) argue that the term FFP ‘increasingly overlapped with managing diversity’ and thus, companies have watched out for a ‘business case to draw these concerns’ into their own business policies. Harker (1996, p.48) provides an overview of the key objectives of FFP by addressing both family as well as work demands of the employer and hence, FFP should be implemented as a balance between the different needs of the employer and its workforce.

Nevertheless, there are many definitions of FFP in the literature because different authors cannot define its ‘complexity and ambiguity’, e.g. family, gender or labour-related issues (Jancaityte, 2006, p.10). The OECD cited in Jancaityte (2006, p.10) defines FFP as folllows:

Friendly-family policies as those employment-orientated social policies, that facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life by fostering the adequacy of family resources and child development, favour the parental choice about work and care and promote gender equality in employment opportunities.

Callan (2007, p.674) citing Simkin and Hillage states another definition of FFP as a ’formal or informal set of terms and conditions which are designed to enable an employee to combine family responsibilities with employment’. Furthermore, DelPo and Guerin (2012, p.185)notice there are different types of FFP that companies implement such as flexible work schedules, job sharing, telecommuting, employee assistance programs or work/life programs, e.g. maternity, paternity and bereavement leave, care giving services, providing additional family and medical leave and allowing the workforce to donate sick or vacation time to each other. In accordance to Callan (2007, p.674), these types of FFP can be divided into three main sections; leave arrangements, flexible working arrangements and workplace facilities, e.g. crèches, nurseries.



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Title: Critically evaluate the belief that family friendly policies are not fundamentally challenging existing organisational structures and cultures