Striking a balance

first_imgTocoincide with Work-Life Balance Week, we asked the training community what roleit could play in maintaining the equilibriumManaging work-life balance is one of today’s great challenges as anincreasingly frenetic workplace takes its toll on people’s health,relationships and well-being. According to the Work-Life Balance Trust, 80 percent of visits to doctors in the UK are stress related. This isn’t just badnews for individuals: it loses 7 million workdays for British industry each year,and the annual cost of absenteeism is a staggering £5bn. The trust’s annual Work-Life Balance Week (1-5 September) is designed toraise awareness of the issues and spur firms into action. We asked academicsemployers and trend-spotters to share their opinions with readers and to ensurethat the effects of the week last longer than five days. Claire McCartneyResearcher, Roffey ParkSome organisations take advantage of Work-Life Balance Week to runconferences or workshops, perhaps on flexible working or stress and timemanagement. Some include fun activities such as yoga or massage, to slow peopledown and attract their interest. Work-life balance is not just about hours and workload; it is about havingcontrol over what you do, and training can help people to achieve that control.Staff surveys are vital if you are to identify any hot spots and do somethingabout them. You also need to review current training. Is it working? What do peoplewant? Have any areas been overlooked? Make sure you don’t alienate staff bycatering for people with apparent special needs, such as parents, whileneglecting everyone else. Tracey CarrManaging director, Eve-olutionHow effective the trainers can be depends on the culture of theorganisation. In a recent survey we conducted with health management firmVielife, 72 per cent of respondents felt flexible working and job share optionsimpeded career advancement, so we still need a huge cultural shift. People are most productive when they feel happy and motivated, and are gettingsomething out of life at work as well as at home. We have the longest workinghours in Europe and the lowest productivity rate – could there be a link? Alison StrawHead of organisational development, SelfridgesOur philosophy is based on this premise: how many people on their deathbedwish they had spent longer in the office? We encourage managers to challengethe need for excessive hours. They are also expected to be role models ofbalance themselves, and to know their teams well enough to recognise when theyare overdoing things. Our responsibility in learning and development is to give managers theskills to create realistic performance targets, and to provide feedback whenbalance is not achieved. Some of our operational staff now work from home. They appreciate spendingless time in the van and the business benefits too. However, there arepractical implications, and our line manager training includes specificsessions to address them. How do you communicate with people you rarely see?How do you motivate them or evaluate their performances? They also need to beprepared mentally for losing the chance to socialise with colleagues or talkwith the boss. Annette AndrewsDiversity manager, Europe, Ford Motor CompanyOne of our engineering line managers was so concerned about high stresslevels among his employees, he created a workshop to help his managers tackleit. What is significant is that it was driven by the bottom line and based on theprinciple of empowering managers to be flexible and make decisions withoutrelying on HR policies and directives. They also commit to cascading theinformation to their staff through half-day programmes. The workshops have been so successful we designed a generic model, which weare currently rolling out across Europe. Ken BlanchardChairman, Ken Blanchard CompaniesTo achieve work-life balance, people must enter their day more slowly. Taketime for solitude, prayer, exercise – whatever helps them decide who they wantto be that day. One company I know doesn’t allow staff to make or receive calls between8-9am. They spend that hour planning their day and thinking ahead, which theyhave found really helpful. If you don’t carve out time for your reflective self, you get caught up inthe rat race. The trouble with that is even if you win, you are still a rat. Further informationWork-Life Balance Week: Evo-lution and vielife survey:,www.vielife.comRoffey Park’s new handbook: Work-Life Balance: A Guide for Organisations isavailable from: Work-Life Balance Week, Roffey Park’s website ( has a dedicated portalwith articles on the theme and information on what companies are doing. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Striking a balanceOn 1 Sep 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img