In a paper published in leading academic journal, Human Resource Management Journal, Cranfield School of Management expert, Professor Clare Kelliher, argues that there is a need to review how we think about ‘work-life balance’.

Professor Kelliher said: “There is strong evidence to suggest that designing policies to help the whole workforce achieve a good work-life balance brings wider benefits to employers. Therefore, it is crucial that managers and HR practitioners think differently to encompass the needs and preferences of the entire workforce.”

Kelliher argues that work-life balance policies have tended to focus on the needs of working parents and whilst that remains important, there is a need to take account of modern day lifestyles and working arrangements. She suggests that other types of caring, such as for other family members, pets and friends; cultural and religious activities; participating in further education and leisure activities all require time and energy and may be things people want to balance with their work commitments.

The paper also addresses changes in the nature of work. Both research and practice have tended to focus on employer policies based on a traditional model of employment (full-time, permanent, with one employer). With the increasing use of temporary and zero hours contracts, growing numbers of multiple job holders and self-employment, especially in the gig economy, the work-life balance of these workers needs to be considered too.

Professor Kelliher adds: “As the world of work changes to allow organisations to become more agile, we need to ensure that these work practices suit contemporary lives. Although parental responsibilities continue to be important, the requirement to balance other aspects of our lives with work is equally valid.”

The paper, co-authored by Professor Clare Kelliher (Cranfield School of Management), Professor Julia Richardson (Curtin Business School, Perth) and Galina Boiarintseva (York University, Toronto) is available to download.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield has been a world leader in management education and research for over 50 years, helping individuals and organisations learn and succeed by transforming knowledge into action. We are dedicated to creating responsible management thinking, improving business performance and inspiring the next generation of business leaders. We work to change the lives of our students and executives by encouraging innovation and creative thinking, as well as the drive to succeed and make a real impact on their organisations.

Organisations as diverse as Jaguar Land Rover, BAE Systems, Royal Dutch Shell, L’Oréal, UNICEF and the African Development Bank have benefited from our work, which ranges from management research projects, through staff talent management development on our MBA courses, to customised executive programmes.

Cranfield is one of an elite group of Schools worldwide to hold the triple accreditation of: AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) and AMBA (the Association of MBAs).

We are in the Top 10 International Business Schools in the Forbes’ ranking.

Our open and customised executive education programmes are ranked in the top five in the UK, according to the latest Financial Times survey, and in the top ten in the world for international reach. Over 10,000 people come to Cranfield each year to benefit from our executive and professional development programmes.