Work-life balance key to output, says Hutton

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

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

Hutton, the author of several books on Britain’s lack of competitiveness,
takes over at the Industrial Society in February.

By Helen Rowe

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