Abstract : Employees have both work and nonwork-related responsibilities and aspirations. Therefore, employers implement Work-Life Practices (WLP), comprised of flexible working options, and support in the nonwork sphere (wellness, childcare, etc.). How relevant and effective are these practices?
WLP are well spread in the US and the UK. Using France as a counter example, I build a multi-level model explaining why French employers adopt fewer WLP. The model draws on neo-institutional theories in a societal analysis approach, and on in-depth interviews with 44 HR officers, employee representatives and service providers in France. It outlines: the weaker legitimacy of French employers compared with the Welfare State, non collaborative industrial relations, a complex legal framework, the weak identification of WL as an HR issue, and its interpretation as social rather than business.
In the US and the UK, based on a case study at GlaxoSmithKline (survey on 5160 employees, 73 in-depth interviews, participant observation), I investigate the outcomes of WLP on the Individual/Organization Relationship (IOR). WL Balance is not a prerequisite of commitment for all employees; nor does it guarantee commitment. WLP have a beneficial impact on the IOR in most cases, not only when employees use them: employees feel more loyal, or proud; they view WLP as a useful perk, or use them to better manage their team. However, WLP can also be detrimental in some instances, generating disappointment or an obligation to stay. Some employees remain indifferent to them. A detailed model completed by a decision tree depict the factors that are relevant to seize the benefits and avoid the side effects of WLP.