BENEFITS OF INTRODUCING WORK-LIFE POLICIES
The business case for introducing work-life polices will clearly be different
for every organisation. There are some strong arguments, however, for organisations
to look at this issue.
Stress in the Workforce
and Social Changes
are operating in an increasingly competitive environment. A change in customer
demands and expectations for access to goods and services around the clock has
meant organisations can no longer operate within the traditional nine to five
structure. To remain competitive and deliver high quality service, organisations
need to be flexible.
As well as competing
for customers, organisations are increasingly competing for employees. Many employees
have responsibilities and interests outside work and organisations need to help
employees find an appropriate balance to incorporate these. Failure to recognise
the importance of this issue could have serious financial ramifications. For example,
it costs between £5-10,000 to recruit and train a bank clerk. The savings involved
in the retention of skilled and experienced employees are therefore considerable.
A recent survey of graduates identified balancing work life with home life as
being a key issue impacting on the retention of graduate recruits1.
The issue of work-life
balance is gathering increasing importance as recent surveys show: In 1999, a
survey of 2,000 managers in the UK2 found
that a third of them would change their jobs if they felt they could improve their
work-life balance. An international survey of 10,000 managers in Europe, US, Russia
and Japan3 found that balancing the needs
of work and personal life was selected as the most or second most important attribute
in a job. The need for balance was valued higher than remuneration in nearly every
country. A survey of MBA final year students4
indicated that the ability to achieve a balanced lifestyle was the most important
factor they would look for in choosing their first employment and 90% singled
out work-life balance as a key factor in determining commitment to their employer.
IN THE WORKFORCE
Employees in the
United Kingdom work the longest hours of any in European country5.
Sickness absence in 1998 cost UK employers £10.2 billion, with an average total
of 8.5 working days lost per employee. Employers ranked workplace stress and home
responsibilities in the top five causes of absence6.
and SOCIAL CHANGES
social changes have a major impact on the workforce and will continue to do so.
68% of women aged 16-59 now work7. Women
are also predicted to account for 72% of the growth in jobs over the next few
years and this will total 45% of all jobs7.
The UK has a rapidly ageing population. In the next 20 years, the dependent elderly
will out-number the dependent young and an increasing number of employees will
have elder-care as well as child-care responsibilities. In 1996, one adult in
eight in Britain was looking after, or providing some regular service, for a sick
or elderly person8 and 2.8 million men
J & Guest D. Should I Stay or Should I Go? Issues relating to the retention of
graduates. Warwick: The Association of Graduate Recruiters, 1999.
Ceridian Performance Partners/Management Today (1999). The Price
of Success, London: Ceridian Performance Partners.
Gemini Consulting (1998). International Workforce Management Study:
Capitalising on the Workforce, London: Yankelovitch Partners Inc.
Coopers & Lybrand
(1997). International Student Survey Report. London: Coopers & Lybrand
(1997), Labour Force Survey Results 1996, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications
for European Communities.
Confederation of British Industry (1999). Focus on Absence, 1999 absence and labour
turnover survey. London: CBI.
of National Statistics. Labour Force Survey Projections, Labour Market Trends,
of National Statistics (1996). General Household Survey.
Office of National Statistics. Informal Carers. Office of National