US firms use staff-friendly measures as retention tool

Family-friendly working: Studies
show contrasting aspects of how employers are tackling work-life balance

The retention of
talent is the main motivation for employers to invest in work-life balance
initiatives, according to US research.

Staff retention was
cited by 71 per cent of respondents as their primary reason for implementing
work-life programmes. This was nearly twice the number who indicated that
recruitment is the driving factor. Employee morale ranked second.

The research, titled
Survey of Work/Life Initiatives 2000, suggests that the employers which were considering
the adoption of popular work-life balance practices two years ago went on to
implement the programmes.

Co-author Dana
Friedman claims that this shows how employers are putting more importance on
staff retention, morale and recruitment in a tight labour market.

The most prevalent
work-life benefits offered are casual dress and reimbursement of tuition fees,
offered by 90 per cent of employers.

Nearly one in five of
the employers surveyed, by Bright Horizons Family Solutions and William M
Mercer, sponsors a childcare centre.

Back-up care is also
growing in popularity as a solution for employees in need of childcare on an
emergency or holiday basis.

The survey of more
than 450 US organisations suggests that, to be successful, work-life balance
practices must be aligned with the organisation’s business needs and

Fifty-five per cent of
employers consider them as part of an overall employer-of-choice strategy.

More than a third of
respondents incorporate work-life balance practices into relocation efforts.

Friedman said,
"Leading companies recognise that work-life initiatives can contribute to
their cutting-edge competitiveness in a tight labour market.

"Not only do they
offer the most generous and innovative initiatives, they focus on creating a
supportive work environment as a way to become the employer of choice in their
respective industries."

By Mike Broad

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