Balancing work and home life is a vital means of improving productivity, the chief executive designate of the Industrial Society Will Hutton has announced.
The society is warning employers that the question has to be seen as a issue for all staff and crucial to staff retention and productivity.
It is rejecting the term "family-friendly" believing it gives the impression it is only of concern to women with young children.
The Work-Life Manual, launched by the society in conjunction with the Work-Life Research Centre, suggests that balancing home and work life is in danger of being seen as something for a "needy few".
Hutton told a conference last week that addressing the work-life balance should be part of a "framework for productivity. It is not a fringe issue".
It affects productivity because staff cannot perform to their best if tired or overly worried about domestic concerns, he said.
Lucy Daniels, co-author of the manual, said that despite evidence of the negative impact of workplace stress on people's private lives, "workplace long-hours culture is alive and kicking - fuelled by competition and fear.
"Talk of family-friendly policies turns out, all too often, to be more rhetoric than reality, with few people daring to take up the option for fear of what it will do to their career prospects," Daniels added.
A new study from the society has found family-friendly policies are widely perceived as beneficial to organisations and their employees, but only if they form part of a wider culture change.
"Policies alone offer a poor return on investment unless they are backed up by other changes which benefit the business and employees," it concludes.
Hutton, the author of several books on Britain's lack of competitiveness, takes over at the Industrial Society in February.
By Helen Rowe