How is work-life balance good for business?

Mar 09 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The best employers worldwide already know that it makes good business sense to create a better work-life balance for their workforce.

More businesses now operate on a 24/7 basis and traditional working practices are no longer suitable for all employers, their people, or their customers. Work-life balance practices are designed to make businesses work better, both in terms of business performance and employee welfare.

From April 2003, flexible working will be on every UK company's agenda. Parents of children under 6, or disabled children under 18, will have the right to request to work flexibly and to have these requests considered seriously by their employer.

Flexible working will give parents greater support and choice with balancing work and childcare and help employers retain valuable skills and experience.

Good employers who extend work life balance practices to their whole workforce reap serious business benefits including:

  • increased productivity;
  • reduced absenteeism and better relations with staff;
  • improved staff morale, commitment and loyalty; and
  • lower turnover of staff and an improved reputation as an employer of choice.

The growing number of employers implementing work-life balance policies recognise it makes good business sense:

  • Xerox (UK) Ltd estimates a £1 million saving over the last five years through enhanced staff retention due to introducing better work-life balance practices
  • James Rothwell and Son Ltd has seen a 9% improvement in productivity, a 44% reduction in staff turnover and a 46% drop in the overall absence rate in six months.

In today's competitive environment the cost of not implementing work-life balance policies can be high.

  • Employers for Work-Life Balance estimate it can cost up to £40,000 to replace a senior manager
  • Stress-related sick absence costs industry around £7.1million every week (Health & Safety Executive)

A survey carried out by the DTI Work-Life Balance Campaign and Management Today magazine revealed that long hours and lack of flexible working options are having a detrimental effect on stress levels:

  • 7 out of 10 (72%) highly stressed workers do not have access to any formal flexible working practices;
  • 1 in 5 (19%) men have visited the doctor because of stress
  • Over a quarter of workers (25%) would like to get a better balance but think that their career would suffer