Employers and work-life balance

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Business case – Your action plan

Introducing change

A successful work-life strategy is as much about how you introduce and implement change, as the options you plan to offer.

1. Identify the core business needs and build a case
2. Tailor policies to suit operational and employee need
3. Develop a set of clear guidelines
4. Communicate what you are doing, and why
5. Monitor and evaluate progress


1. Identify the core business needs and build a case

The process:

  • Ensure ‘buy in’ by demonstrating to colleagues and senior management how a strategy will benefit business and the workforce as a whole

  • Calculate cost and time savings

  • Consider the policies and practices you want to develop.

Potential cost savings and benefits:

  • Advertising and recruitment costs reduced

  • Training costs reduced

  • Costs saved by reduced sick leave

  • Costs saved by reduced absenteeism

  • Fewer sales lost during hand-over time owing to reduced staff turnover

  • Less time spent interviewing

  • Less time and money spent on inductions and supervision

  • Office space savings

People benefits:

  • Gains in numbers of skilled applicants for jobs

  • Increase in levels of employee commitment

  • Flexibility across the workforce to suit customer requirements

  • More innovative thinking among staff

  • Enhanced employer brand



2. Tailor policies to suit operational and employee need

The work-life practices you adopt you will need to meet your operational needs as well as employees’ priorities. You should consider the following:

  • Policies and procedures already in place

  • The impact on customers of new ways of working

  • Whether your employees all need to start and finish at the same time

  • The management time and training needed to co-ordinate a more flexible workforce

  • Back-up arrangements when employees are on leave

  • Planning and scheduling to cover busy periods

  • Balancing business and personal needs

  • The core elements of a work-life strategy



3. Develop a set of clear guidelines

  • Written guidelines demonstrate to employees that work-life issues can be discussed openly

  • Include guidelines in contracts of employment or in a staff handbook

  • A written statement or policy will help improve your employer brand

Sample guidelines

Flexible Working Policy for Joe Bloggs Ltd:

  • Applications for extended leave or flexible working (other than in an emergency) will always be considered, but first need to be discussed and agreed with your manager so that:

    • The needs of the business are taken into account

    • The impact on other members of staff is considered

    • The best option is identified to meet everyone’s needs

Managing the arrangement:

  • A notice period of x weeks/months is required before further changes are made

  • Reviews to ensure that the agreement is working, will take place at intervals of 3 months

  • All requests will be given equal consideration, taking the above points plus overall employee performance into account.

  • We will try our best to accommodate your needs, but there is no guarantee that this will be feasible. However, where a refusal is necessary, the matter can be reviewed again after 6 months, taking the same considerations into account

How to compile guidelines:
Flexible working – include:

  • Types of flexible working available

  • Application procedure for changes to work hours

  • Who will decide final approval or refusal

  • Review procedure

  • How business and employee needs will be met.

Taking Leave – include:

  • Details of annual leave allowance

  • Sick leave procedure

  • Parental and maternity leave

  • Time off for dependants

  • Details of what you offer, if anything, over and above the statutory minimum

Employee support – include:

  • Details of any back-up that you can offer employees, such as:
    • Help finding childcare or other local services

    • Access to counseling

    • Subsidies or loans.

  • Glossary of work-life balance terms



4. Communicate what you are doing, and why

Once you have decided on the appropriate strategy for your type of business, make sure it is communicated to employees and managers as well as in recruitment advertising:

  • Put details in employment contracts

  • Put details in the staff handbook

  • Use managerial briefings

  • Use training sessions

  • Use individual appraisal sessions to inform people of changes

Let everyone know about success stories but also tackle problems or queries promptly when they arise.



5. Monitor and evaluate progress

Monitoring the effectiveness of your work-life strategy will help you to map progress and reinforce the business case to management:

  • Monitor turnover:

    • What is the level of staff turnover?

    • What are the reasons for turnover?

    • Do maternity cases return to company after maternity leave?


  • Monitor absenteeism:

    • What is the current level of unscheduled absenteeism?

    • What are the key causes of absence?

Where to next?
Using a consultant
Tips for implementing your work-life strategy


© Work-Life balance part of The Work Foundation 2005