Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Work-Life Stress Costs Billions

Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Work-Life Stress Costs Billions

Article excerpt

Work-life balance is becoming employers' top priority, according to Margaret Hodge, parliamentary under-secretary of state for employment and equal opportunities. At a conference on implementing work-life balance policies last month, Hodge said that a skills shortage in Britain was encouraging employers to think of new ways to retain staff.

"Recruiters know that it is no longer possible to attract bright graduates to regimented 9-5 jobs," she said. "It costs on average 3,000 [pounds sterling] to recruit and train an employee and, in a tight labour market, getting and keeping the right people to maintain high service levels and keep a competitive edge is going to mean offering them flexibility over when or where they work."

And more people want to work flexibly, she added. There are more mothers coming back to work, an increase in adult carers as elderly parents live longer, an increase in disabled people in the workplace, and improved technology which makes it easier for people to work at home. And younger people are becoming less willing to work longer hours.

But there is little good practice about. Just 12 per cent of British employers provide information about childcare and only 2 per cent provide support such as creches or financial help. But 56 per cent spend money on counselling for stress. "It's clear that we're dealing with the results rather than the causes of a lack of work-life balance," Hodge argued.

Work-related stress costs British businesses 10 billion [pounds sterling] in lost working days, which is equivalent to 500 [pounds sterling] per worker, so introducing good work-life balance policies pays. …

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