The Big Issue of Work-Life Balance & How An Agile Workforce Will Help UK Recovery

WorkLife BalanceI want to thank everyone who participated in the holiday poll last week; it would appear that I have some very hard-working blog followers. The poll showed that around 45% of respondents don’t take all their leave entitlement – that is 20% higher than the official research which is slightly worrying!

Flexible working, as well as taking time out to enjoy friends and family would probably go a long way to addressing the issue highlighted in a recent survey carried out by totaljobs.com, that 66% of UK employees are dissatisfied with their work/life balance with  42% saying that the stress of work affects their home life!  

So it was with some relief I read in the Telegraph this week that a group of 22 senior executives from Britain’s largest organisations, including BT, Ford, ITV, B&Q, BP, Citigroup and Tesco are ready to commit to flexible working for their staff. As you know, flexible working is high on my list of ‘hot topics’ for organisations to consider – not least since I know that it is now easier to manage flexible working practices and that it can bring all kinds of benefits to UK businesses and makes them more competitive.  

It seems that there has finally been a shift away from the long-held business opinion that flexible working is a cost to the organisation or merely an ‘employee perk’. The change of view has been driven, in part, by a McKinsey report, commissioned by the Agile Future Forum (AFF) that found organisations with an agile workforce can cut workforce costs by as much as 13%. This is on top of the benefits of employees that are better engaged with their work.

The AFF, lead by Sir Win Bischoff, Chairman of Lloyds Banking Group and set up 18 months ago to look at transforming traditional working practices with a view to boosting the UK economy,  is  very keen to promote the benefits of an agile workforce. It has laid down some basic principles around flexible working, the first of which is to ensure agile working policies come from the chief executive, not human resources, to ensure they are business-driven. The second is for bosses to fully engage staff so they can understand what will work; some will want to work weekends or evenings or fewer hours, in exchange for flexibility.

It seems now may be a good time to ask the  boss if would be ok to move to a 3-day  week so I could spend more time on the boat – not sure that my request will be granted but I will let you know how I get on. As always I would welcome your thoughts and comments.

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