Work-life balance policies must be made priority

Employment
Minister Alan Johnson has urged businesses to adopt work-life balance polices
after new research reveals stress-related absenteeism costs industry £7.1m a
week.

The
study, by the Department for Trade and Industry’s Work-Life Balance Campaign,
finds that only a quarter of employers are aware how much this sickness absence
affects the bottom line.

The
survey also shows there is widespread ignorance about how much staff turnover
costs business. Only one in five of the companies surveyed are aware it costs
on average more than £3,000 each time someone leaves.

Johnson
stressed that employers need to start making the link between progressive
employment practices and reduced absenteeism and staff turnover.

"It’s
a real concern that so many employers don’t know how much stress and absenteeism
is costing them.

"Businesses
need to be smarter when it comes to beating these common problems. Work-life
balance policies such as flexible working, job sharing and employee benefits
don’t require a huge cash investment – just a fresh approach.  Employers have to start to realise that
prevention is better, and cheaper, than cure."

The
study also finds that nearly 60 per cent of employers have never considered
offering job sharing schemes and 56 per cent have not thought about introducing
flexible working locations, such as working from home.

Almost
half of the employers have never considered any form of benefits packages and
one in 10 have not offered any part-time working options.

The
study follows previous Government research which reveals UK employees are five
times more likely to be offered stress counselling than preventative work-life
balance policies such as childcare advice.

By Ben Willmott

www.dti.gov.uk/work-lifebalance

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