Member Article

Getting the balance right

With Jill Lee of Business Link

With 30 million days lost to work-related ill health last year alone, businesses that adjust working patterns to promote greater work-life balance will stand to reap the rewards.

Granting employees more control over their working lives results in increased productivity, lower absenteeism and a happier, less stressed workforce.

The secrets behind achieving this balance are set out in Business Link’s online guide to work-life balance. By logging on to www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast companies across the region can see the benefits which include lowering stress levels which in turn:

  • generates higher quality work
  • increases productivity
  • reduces sickness absence
  • improves morale and staff retention

The online guide covers employers’ responsibilities. Some employees with young or disabled children have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements and employers can only refuse a request if there is a clear business reason. This guide helps businesses to draft a flexible working policy making it clear which circumstances must be considered.

Building better relations with employees can increase loyalty, commitment and motivation, reducing staff turnover and recruitment costs. Employers often find flexible working practices boost competitiveness and reputation. In addition, customer demands and changing market conditions can be met more quickly through flexible arrangements, which can help a business open longer, without making employees work longer hours.

There are no strict rules regarding what constitutes an acceptable work-life balance, it is very much dependant on the needs of a business and its employees. Flexible working practices can include part-time working, flexi-time, self rostering, job sharing and home working. Our website also features an interactive tool to help businesses identify the correct approach for them.

Other flexible arrangements such as unpaid career breaks and paid sabbatical schemes can help retain valued staff or reward those with long service records. Extra annual leave can also improve an employee’s work life balance and holiday purchase schemes can enable employees to buy holidays additional to their entitlement.

Offering maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave in excess of the statutory minimum is another way to give staff more control over their working lives and will also foster greater employee loyalty and commitment.

The Business Link website also features a checklist detailing how to implement work-life policies as a long term commitment to business operations.

Business Link’s substantial team of expert brokers operate across the region in local access points and on a mobile basis. For further information about Business Link visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast or call 0845 600 9 006.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by BENE .

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