SMEs ignoring work-life balance

Sep 01 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

As the annual work-life balance week gets underway in the UK, research carried out by Investors in People reveals that while almost seven out of ten Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) believe work-life balance initiatives help businesses become more competitive, two-thirds of them are doing nothing about it.

Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of Investors in People, said: "Itís encouraging that so many organisations recognise the benefits of flexible working, however, itís worrying that nearly two thirds still havenít done anything to address the issue.

"Having a work-life balance ethos helps organisations to: attract and retain good people, increase motivation, satisfaction and productivity, and, as a result, become more competitive. Itís something all organisations, especially smaller businesses canít afford to ignore."

The IIP research has found that four out of ten SMEs believe the main benefit of flexible working initiatives is increased staff satisfaction and almost a third say the main benefit is retaining key staff.

Fewer than one in ten employers believe that flexible working is nothing more than the latest human resources trend.

A third of small businesses see flexible working as the most attractive reward when recruiting and retaining good people, while a similar proportion believe annual salary to be the most attractive reward

A mere eight per cent of employers and six per cent of employees think that perks, such as a company car and gym membership, are an attractive reward.

But despite this, six out of ten SMEs admit they need to address flexible working issues while two-thirds of employees think that their bosses need to address work-life balance. According to Ruth Spellman, "annual salary has previously been viewed as the key factor when recruiting people, however ensuring you strike a balance between home and work is becoming a real priority.

"People are also keen to see their development potential," she added. "Twenty four per cent of employers and 22 per cent of employees believe training and promotion prospects are central to recruiting and retaining staff."

Over half of SMEs identify administration as the main barrier preventing them introducing flexible working initiatives. A quarter see cost as the main barrier, while only 14 per cent donít see a bottom line benefit to adopting flexible working.

"Having a work-life balance ethos helps organisations to attract and retain good people, increase motivation, satisfaction and productivity, and, as a result, become more competitive." Says Spellman. "Itís something all organisations, especially smaller businesses canít afford to ignore."