'The Family Friendly Firm'.
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Introduction Family-friendly measures include childcare, care of the elderly, parental and other family leave and monetary benefits or tax rebates. At some stage in most people's working lives they will have to learn to combine employment with the care of others (children, adults, elders) although most of the time is spent working leaving little time for 'other demands and activities' (Lewis, 2001). Since the 1970's there has been signs of change on the issue of the balance of responsibility between domestic and paid work There is now a clear change in sex-role attitudes, with men and women 'increasingly exposing more 'egalitarian attitudes' (Kiernan, 1992: 82). Women are devoting less time to domestic duties including childcare. However women 'still spend more time than men on domestic activities' (Van der lippe & Roelofs, 1995: 124). Van der lippe and Roelofs (1995) on the other hand find that one parent has to give up work to care for a child and it will most definitely always be the women. In the UK men take on the least proportion of domestic work whereas women do '67 per cent' (Kirton & Greene, 2000: 250) of domestic activities. I am going to critically evaluate the extent to which traditional assumption about the separation of work and personal lives are being challenged by 'Family-friendly' policies in UK organisations. Families can come in many different forms such as 'two-parent, single parent and reconstituted families, households with young, teenaged or adult children, people in heterosexual or gay relationships living with friends, or in nuclear or extended families' (Kirton & Greene, 2000: 240). High divorce rates have increased the number of single parent families. The idea that employment can be friendly and supportive towards 'other social systems beyond work' (Lewis & Lewis, 1996:11) maybe open to different interpretations. This may be interpreted in the sense that employment does not conflict with family, or even supports people with family commitments to enable them to do their jobs. ...read more.
Re-evaluation of organisational practices which make it difficult to achieve work and family goals as well as the recognition of diverse constraints are required within an organisation. The objective of the gender equity case is therefore to challenge and modifies organisational practices' (Lewis, 2001). Women's roles as mothers are visible in organisations but are 'frequently played out' (Kirton & Greene, 2000: 243) where the dominant social constructions of the ideal mother and the ideal worker are mutually exclusive whereas men's parenting family roles are less visible in the workplace as well as in the family. Resulting in making goals to make women's and men's family work roles equally visible, legitimate and valued. The Quality of life rationale is based on family-friendly employment due to stress created in the within families. It aims to examine the 'relationships between work, family, and well-being which includes the impact of maternal employment on women's well being, as well as the impacts on other family members' (Crompton & Le Feuvre, 2000). Multiple roles can bring about satisfaction and protect against stress in some situations as recognised by the quality of life approach. Although it is acknowledged that multiple roles can also cause stress, job dissatisfaction and negative consequences for individuals, families and organisations. Cooper and Lewis (1993) state how role strain is due to the failure of organisations to adapt to demographic and social changes rather than to any inherent conflict between the two domains. The objective of this approach is therefore to adapt organisational policies and structures to enable people to manage multiple demands in work and family with maximum satisfaction and minimum stress. Barling (1994) argues that work has a negative effect on families as people are spending less time with their families, which explains the implementation of flexible or reduced hours schedules. He further argues that the quality of the work, rather than the amount of timing of the work, is critical to an understanding of the balance between work and family and also how organisations need to examine 'all their practices concerning both work time and other conditions of work' (Lewis & Lewis, 1996: 10) ...read more.
Conclusion There appears to be 'little change to the predominant view that domestic work is women's work' (Lewis & Lewis, 1996: 62). Legislation, and public policy initiatives, appears to have done little to change social attitudes. While social attitudes on the sexual division within families also do not appear to be changing in them, there is little legislative pressure for change in this domain as well. The trend for 'family-friendly' policies has not attempted to challenge the existing predominance of childcare as a family responsibility as flexible working tends to operate 'to the disadvantage of the women and men employed on this basis' (EOR 1996), evidenced by poorer pay and conditions and limited access to training and promotion. In addition, this is flexibility on the employer's terms, with numerical flexibility encouraged to meet employer's organisational needs. The 'work-family challenge' is not a woman's issue. This is an issue of crucial importance to men. If employers recognise man too have a legitimate wish to participate in their families and in the wider community, then organisations will really begin to change for the benefit of employers and employees. Once that is realised employment practices will have to rethink to 'reconcile work and non-work responsibilities' (Lewis & Lewis, 1996:xiv) employers will not only achieve a better motivated workforce but a more productive one as well. As a result of the shifting balance within the traditional family unit, roles are no longer taken for granted. There is a definition of roles for both sexes as more men are now seen at school gates, pushing buggies and changing nappies for example. Attitudes towards family commitment is changing for men (especially younger men) as they want to play a significant role in their families, 'leading to a better balance in their lives as well as in the lives of their partners' (Lewis &Lewis, 1996, xiv). The key objectives the policies must address if they are to become family-friendly is by enabling people to fulfil family as well as work demands; by promoting gender equity and the sharing of family responsibilities between men and women. ...read more.
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