UK businesses starting to embrace work-life balance benefits

British
business has accepted that work-life balance policies are here to stay and do
provide business benefits.

According
to The Work Foundation’s latest Managing Best Practice, work-life balance is a key
feature of today’s award-winning organisations, such as Asda, BT, Eli Lilley
and First Direct.

Yet,
the report finds, the work-life balance message still encounters pockets of
resistance from managers in around a third of employers.

The
vast majority of employers (68 per cent) accept an organisational
responsibility to help staff achieve a healthy work-life balance in all
circumstances.

This
attitude was found to be particularly strong in the public and voluntary
sectors and among utility firms where work-life balance options are offered to
almost all workers.

However,
almost a third of organisations (28 per cent) still take a narrow statutory
approach, limiting work-life balance options to obligations towards working
parents.

HR
professionals surveyed said that ‘management resistance to change’ was the
number one difficulty organisations face in implementing work-life balance
measures (30 per cent).

Nick
Isles, deputy director of advocacy at The Work Foundation, said: "The idea
that flexible working should only benefit the employer still pervades the
thinking of too many UK managers.

“Survey
after survey and case study after case study shows that those employers who
instigate and apply policies that improve the work-life balance of their
employees see bottom-line benefits for their organisations."

Why
organisations adopted a positive approach to work-life balance:


To boost staff retention (52 per cent)


Make the organisation more attractive to potential recruits (39 per cent)


Improve overall performance (38 per cent)


In response to employee demand (36 per cent)


In response to increasing workforce diversity (35 per cent)


As a way to reduce sickness absence (29 per cent)

 The top three benefits experienced from
supporting employees’ work-life balance:


Improved employee commitment/motivation (46 per cent)


Higher retention rates (40 per cent)


Improved employee relations (37 per cent)

 The top three measures used to assist staff
achieve a better work-life balance:


The provision of part-time working (90 per cent)


Family/emergency leave (85 per cent)


General unpaid leave (78 per cent)

By Quentin Reade

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