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Becoming the Best: Striking the Right Balance

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor

Promoting a positive work-life balance at the University of Lincoln is not simply about complying with the law. It is about establishing an employee’s personal and workplace needs and considering how they can be met in ways that are consistent with the needs of the University.

Implementation of our work-life balance policies is an important part of our strategic plan, to recruit and retain the very best staff and to become recognised as a university of quality and distinction. It is also about identifying our social responsibility, through engagement with local partners which further demonstrates our commitment to the community.

Creating excellent working conditions, facilitated by our work-life balance initiative and other HR policies, will help to ensure that we develop a reputation for excellence and deliver on our future vision to become a leading UK Higher Education Institution, located in one of the world’s great small cities, by 2020.

Our work-life balance suite of policies, like the rest of the equality-related work that we do, is focussed on promoting dialogue and making a real change. It is not merely a paper-based ‘tick box’ exercise. We will continue to consult with you on these areas on an ongoing basis.

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor

Why encourage a positive work-life balance?

Jayne Billam, Director Human Resources

Many forward-thinking organisations are promoting a more innovative approach to working patterns in response to changing organisational dynamics. The benefits of a more flexible approach are long-lasting and wide-ranging, as well as delivering valuable short-term solutions to meet temporary needs.

We have formal flexible working and work-life balance policies in place, but good policies alone are not enough.  Academic staff and professional support staff at managerial level need to be communicating the benefits to all employees and changing the working culture to look at performance and outputs rather than ‘presenteeism’.

Whilst it is true that academic staff already have a degree of on-site flexibility, they may still require support to manage their workloads and improve their work-life balance. Equally, professional support staff working in traditional nine to five roles, may need more flexibility to balance their home and family commitments.

Striking the right work-life balance can raise the quality of an employees work, increase productivity, improve morale and reduce recruitment and training costs through improved staff retention. Improvement in each of these areas will help the University to deliver its core values and will increase our ability to attract and retain the highest calibre staff and students – essential to developing a leadership position.

Jayne Billam, Director Human Resources

It’s the way we do things round here!

Claire Bell, Employee Engagement and Diversity Manager
Claire Bell, Employee Engagement and Diversity Manager

To ensure that we are taking the right steps to encourage a healthy balance between work and outside commitments, in addition to our work-life balance suite of policies, we have introduced regular staff forums and feedback mechanisms to talk to employees and managers about where improvements could be made. There are no right or wrong answers. The key issue is how to implement and operate those policies in practice, to create a positive and supportive culture and to deliver the potential benefits they offer, both in terms of competitive performance and employee well-being.

I believe that we have taken great strides so far. The selection of case studies that are featured in our document Work-Life Balance at the University of Lincoln are a positive testament to our goals and objectives. Let us continue to raise the bar and to ensure that support, engagement, best practice and retention of our staff become the values that we work to as part of ‘the way we do things around here’!

Claire Bell, Employee Engagement and Diversity Manager