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New guides to work-life balance from the DTI

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UK employers and their staff are set to receive advice on the benefits of flexible working and how to improve their work-life balance with the launch of two guides from the DTI’s Work-life Balance Campaign.

‘Work-Life Balance: The Business Case’ illustrates how innovative companies have used policies to reduce absenteeism, boost productivity and reduce long hours, while ‘Work-Life Balance: The Essentials Guide’ looks at the different solutions individuals have found to manage both their home life and demands at work .

Research has shown that flexible working improves staff commitment and can help business performance by cutting expenditure in advertising and other recruitment costs; training; interview time, inductions and supervision; office space and absenteeism.

In 2000, 7.8 working days were lost on average per employee due to workplace absence – over 192 million days, costing an average £434 – at a total cost to business of £10.7 billion.

Alan Johnson, Employment Relations Minister, said, “Balancing the demands of work and life can improve business competitiveness and encourage individuals perform to their potential in the workplace.

“These guides are free to all businesses and individuals in the UK and I hope that they will help demonstrate the benefits of flexible working – there’s never been a better time to consider what you can do to make a difference.”

Successful work-life balance benefits featured in the guide include:

  • Xerox (UK) Ltd estimates that it has saved over £1 million over the last five years through enhanced retention due to better work-life balance policies, including flexible working and leave schemes.
  • Lloyds TSB estimates that it costs them between £48,0000 and £50,000 to replace a senior female employee.
  • HSBC Bank lost 70% of the Bank’s maternity leavers prior to the introduction of their Childcare Programme; in 2001 HSBC is in its thirteenth year of the nursery programme with an 85% retention figure for female staff
  • The AA found that working from home boosts productivity by up to 30%
  • BT’s Workstyle Consultancy Group showed that absenteeism could be reduced by between 20-40% and productivity boosted by 20-40%

The Work and Parents Taskforce is separately considering how parents of young children and their employers can be encouraged to consider flexible working patterns that suit them both.

It will report its recommendations to Ministers in November. More information on the Taskforce can be obtained from its website at http://www.workandparentstaskforce.gov.uk.

To receive a copy of ‘Work-Life Balance: The Business Case’ or ‘Work-Life Balance: the Individuals Guide’ call 0870 1502 500

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