Sustainable workplace flexibility accounting and reporting in a large Australian financial institution

Vijaya Murthy, James Guthrie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of the study is to explore the discourse adopted by a 'best practice' organisation in accounting and reporting on workforce flexibility. The focus is how it communicates with its internal stakeholders. Design/Methodology/Approach: The dataset included internal employee newsletters for a period of five years (2003-2007). The paper uses content analysis technique to examine the discourse within the newsletters. The workforce flexibility practices were divided into 12 attributes that were grouped into three categories (i.e., work related flexible arrangements, family and dependant care arrangements, and other general arrangements). Findings: It was found that the financial institution used its internal newsletters to change its organisational culture through education, acceptance, and continuous communication to and from employees. The three categories of workforce flexibility were reported using different forms of discourse, namely, reports from management, dialogues with employees and employee self-accounts. The management’s intension on reporting the first two categories of workforce flexibility seems to be to use the newsletters to facilitate these flexible arrangements but not to encourage employees to use these arrangements. With the third category, reporting was proactive in nature, encouraging the employees to involve mainly in community volunteering. Research limitations/Implications: The main limitations of the study are that this study is on one 'best practice' organisation and the results cannot be generalised to other organisations. Analysis was restricted only to the discourse provided in employee newsletters. Practical implications: This paper indicates that reporting on workforce flexibility to employees is necessary for the sustainable development of an organisation. The use of employee self-accounts as a form of discourse helps in bringing a change in the organisational culture. Accounting could be used as a form of discourse and workforce flexibility metrics could be developed using narrative self-accounts. Originality/value: This is the first study that explores the accounting and reporting of 'workforce flexibility' practices. The study highlights that reporting on workforce flexibility is important in sustainable development of the organisation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th Australasian Conference for Social and Environmental Accounting Research (A-CSEAR 2008)
Subtitle of host publication7-9 December 2008, Adelaide, South Australia
EditorsRoger Burritt
Place of PublicationAdelaide, South Australia
PublisherCentre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability, University of South Australia
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780646496306
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralasian Conference on Social and Environmental Accounting Research (7th : 2008) - Adelaide, South Australia
Duration: 7 Dec 20089 Dec 2008


ConferenceAustralasian Conference on Social and Environmental Accounting Research (7th : 2008)
CityAdelaide, South Australia


  • Workforce flexibility
  • self-accounts
  • discourse
  • internal reporting
  • human capital accounting

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