life at the start of this century is undergoing major change. Individuals are
frequently having to juggle a range of responsibilities. Demand for goods and
services around the clock is increasing and the traditional nine to five day no
longer necessarily meets the needs of the individual or today's society.
These changes have profound implications for employers both in terms of service
delivery and recruiting and retaining high quality employees. Everyone has a life
outside work, whether it be caring for children or elderly parents, studying or
playing sport. Increasingly as employers, we need to be able to help our employees
balance their work with the rest of their lives, if we are to become employers
Over the past few months, I have been meeting with the business leaders of over
20 pioneering organisations, all of whom have been looking at these issues. They
include small and mediums sized businesses as well as large blue-chip organisations.
Between us, we employ around half a million people.
The one thing we have in common is that we all believe that our organisations
have benefited from the introduction of work-life policies and that the principles
of such policies are key to our success in the future. By putting work-life balance
at the heart of our corporate culture, we have, for instance, been able to improve
morale and reduce absenteeism and employee turnover.
Other employers may also find that looking at these policies can help their organisations
but it can be difficult to know where to go for information and advice. We have
therefore established "Employers for Work-Life Balance". This employer alliance
aims to share the experiences we have had and to provide a one-stop shop for employers
interested in finding out more about this issue.
We are delighted that the Government has also announced a range of activities
to support work-life balance and we look forward to working with them to achieve
our joint objectives. We will also be working closely with those organisations
that have been championing this issue for some time.
The alliance organisations do not have all the answers. We are at the beginning
of this process ourselves, but we hope that what we have learnt may be of value
to those employers looking at this issue for the first time.