Exploring factors affecting the utilisation of flexible working arrangements amongst men

  • Joshua Barker

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Background - As the UK workforce faces turbulent conditions – pandemic, cost of living crisis – the need for HR policy that enables and encourages productivity whilst being well-being conscious is needed now more than ever before. Understanding how to better engage men in flexible working arrangements (FWA) is crucial to align policy and people better. However, there is a deft absence of literature on the male experience, particularly about their utilisation of FWA. As FWA are at the heart of ‘good work’, it is vital that all employees have equal access and success in being able to benefit from FWA. This is where the study aims to provide key contributions to this previously under researched area. The study aims to explore factors affecting male utilisation and make recommendations for ways organisations can better engage men in their FWA policies.

Method - The method was semi-structured interviews, recorded using video conferencing software – Microsoft Teams. This enabled in-depth qualitative data capture. A phenomenological approach was taken, and a thematic analysis was conducted to allow participants to explain their experiences from their perspective, which is important as how people subjectively engage with policy is essential. This approach meets the research aim of exploring the utilisation of FWA amongst men whilst also allowing the participants to maintain their authentic voices. This adds value to the recommendations they offer. 15 interviews were carried out.

Findings - The data analysis was based on the work of Smith et al. (1999). There were 19 minor themes recognised through first phase coding and six major themes identified through second phase coding. The overarching theme found through the analysis of these major themes is that the realities of FWA are challenging for men, so whilst the idea for many is something they thought they might enjoy – the reality of using FWA was far more complex. There are five major themes exploring these ‘reality’ factors, and one exploring the participant's recommendations for how organisations can adapt how they engage men with FWA. Theme one – identity factors. Theme two – personal factors. Theme three – social factors. Theme four – organisational factors. Theme five – unique phenomenon factor. Theme six – participant recommendations.

Conclusion - The purpose of the study was to explore the factors affecting male utilisation of FWA. This thesis brings together 15 male perspectives of FWA and the factors affecting their decisions about how they engage with this crucial HR policy. It concludes with the idea that there is not one factor that stands above the rest when considering FWA, rather the ‘realities’ of multiple factors mean that FWA for these men was a challenge. These conclusions are not only a base for further study but also provides recommendations for how these men feel organisations could better engage them with FWA policy. It begins to fill the deft absence of a male perspective in the current field of research. This is where the contribution to the field lies – in beginning to discuss the factors affecting the male utilisation of FWA, in a context of more FWA options than at any time previous. To conclude this thesis, there is an exploration of the strengths but also limitations of the study and how it could be improved and further expanded on in the future.
Date of Award30 Oct 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnna Zueva (Main Supervisor) & Peter Greenan (Co-Supervisor)

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