The year 2007 will go down as the year employers woke up to the importance of flexible working. Awareness of work-life balance has never been so high - on the one hand we have minister for children, young people and families Beverley Hughes calling for government to extend flexible working rights to all, while parts of the Work and Families Act that come into force next week offer more rights than ever to staff with caring responsibilities.
And these developments are welcome, according to the findings of our exclusive work-life balance research carried out by Personnel Today in conjunction with incentives specialist Red Letter Days.
Our research found that 74% of respondents believe the Work and Families Act will have at least some impact on employees' work-life balance, while 92% believe that offering flexible working hours to staff improves their job satisfaction.
Being aware of workers' family commitments is a key part of getting that balance right. When asked what would improve work-life balance in their organisation, most respondents (52%) said allowing staff to spend more time with their families. Reducing hours was the next most popular measure, cited by one-fifth of respondents.
Awareness of these issues is all well and good, but who actually offers flexible working and family-related initiatives? Flexible working hours are on offer at three-quarters of organisations in our survey, while 48% claim to offer family-related benefits.
Perhaps not surprisingly, these initiatives are more popular in the public sector - which has a long-standing reputation for flexible working practices - and in larger companies.
But are they doing enough? Almost 70% of respondents believe their employer addresses work-life balance to some extent, but only 19% think they address it to a great extent, according to our survey. Almost half think that the flexible benefits on offer at their organisation are not enough, and this includes those where their employers already offer a range of flexible working optio