To coincide with Work-Life Balance Week, we asked the training community what role it could play in maintaining the equilibrium
Managing work-life balance is one of today's great challenges as an increasingly frenetic workplace takes its toll on people's health, relationships and well-being. According to the Work-Life Balance Trust, 80 per cent of visits to doctors in the UK are stress related. This isn't just bad news for individuals: it loses 7 million workdays for British industry each year, and the annual cost of absenteeism is a staggering £5bn.
The trust's annual Work-Life Balance Week (1-5 September) is designed to raise awareness of the issues and spur firms into action. We asked academics employers and trend-spotters to share their opinions with readers and to ensure that the effects of the week last longer than five days.
Researcher, Roffey Park
Some organisations take advantage of Work-Life Balance Week to run conferences or workshops, perhaps on flexible working or stress and time management. Some include fun activities such as yoga or massage, to slow people down and attract their interest.
Work-life balance is not just about hours and workload; it is about having control over what you do, and training can help people to achieve that control. Staff surveys are vital if you are to identify any hot spots and do something about them.
You also need to review current training. Is it working? What do people want? Have any areas been overlooked? Make sure you don't alienate staff by catering for people with apparent special needs, such as parents, while neglecting everyone else.
Managing director, Eve-olution
How effective the trainers can be depends on the culture of the organisation. In a recent survey we conducted with health management firm Vielife, 72 per cent of respondents felt flexible working and job share options impeded career advancement, so we still need a huge cultural shift.
People are most productive when they feel happy and motivated, and are getting something out of life at work as well as at home. We have the longest working hours in Europe and the lowest productivity rate - could there be a link?
Head of organisational development, Selfridges
Our philosophy is based on this premise: how many people on their deathbed wi