A Case Analysis on the Adequacy of Work-Life Balance Practices in UK Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Babatunde Akanji


Objective: The purpose of this study is to examine whether work-life balance (WLB) practices are satisfactorily provided in UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the impact of the availability of these work-life policies on turnover intentions. A review of extant literature reveals scarce knowledge in this area of research and this study presents a rudimentary effort to fill this gap.

Research Design & Methods: Using qualitative design, the data set comprised of in-depth interviews with thirty-six employees working in small and medium-sized UK convenience stores and supermarkets with less than ninety employees.

Findings: Informal nature of human resource management policies emerged from the findings as one of the constraining forces impeding work-life agendas in SMEs and causing low staff retention in UK. Although other themes were found to contribute to retention challenges, however, these additional reasons were not independent, but all considered integrated.

Implications & Recommendations: Consequently, the practical implication of devising ways to overcome WLB and retention deficiencies in this context were also explored.

Contribution & Value Added: The originality of this work lies in studying the importance of WLB practices to some of these grass root businesses that make up a large proportion of the economy in the UK. As the limitation of this study is that it is wholly qualitative in nature, it is suggested that future research should rely on quantitative designs that provides more internally valid tests via computational techniques.


UK SMEs; work-life balance; convenience supermarkets; low staff retention; turnover intentions

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15678/EBER.2017.050311