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Lesson 6: Idea > Mix of Problem/Solution and Cause/Effect task types

Example task You should spend about 40 minutes on this task. Many people today find it difficult to balance the demands of their work and personal life. What are the causes of this situation, and what can individuals and employers do to reduce the problem? You should give reasons for your answer, and include ideas […]

Example task

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Many people today find it difficult to balance the demands of their work and personal life. What are the causes of this situation, and what can individuals and employers do to reduce the problem?

You should give reasons for your answer, and include ideas and examples from your own knowledge and experience. Write at least 250 words.

 

Explanation of the task

Occasionally, an IDEAS task may be a mix of PROBLEM/ SOLUTION and CAUSE/ EFFECT types. In this example, you are asked to think of some ideas about the causes of a situation, and then propose solutions. You should follow the same structure as for other IDEAS tasks, and give two or three causes, then two or three ideas about solutions (ways to ‘reduce the problem’) and then summarise. Note that the task requires you to talk about solutions from individuals and also from employers. You should check the task carefully to make sure you have understood any ‘extra’ requirements such as this. They are quite common in IDEAS type tasks.

 

Model essay

Finding a compromise between one’s job and one’s private life is probably harder than ever these days, especially if one has a family. There are several reasons for this, but also a number of measures we can take.

Possibly the major factor is the increased workload that many people have to deal with. The predominance of the service sector means that most people work in office-related jobs, and they find that employers expect them to stay longer or be available outside traditional office hours. On top of this, the rise of communication tools – ranging from smart phones to laptops and teleconferencing equipment – has accelerated the trend, because people are always contactable. Furthermore, the economic recession has made the labour market increasingly competitive, and so workers are under pressure to cooperate in this process, fearing loss of promotion or even redundancy if they resist.

However, there are various steps that can be taken to lessen the problem. Firstly, individuals should clarify with their employer the times when they expect to be free of work and out of contact, thus ensuring private time. Another positive development would be for employers to allow more flexible working hours, so that staff can take time off for important family events during the working day. Lastly, employers could offer advice and coaching to staff in areas such as time management, stress control and relaxation techniques. This would help to reduce the anxiety that stems from heavy workloads and long hours.

In summary, we can say that technology and economics are creating this situation, but also that employees and companies together can reduce the impact.

(268 words)