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Is a work/life balance achievable?

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Reports from Hay Group show workers’ feelings about work/life balance vary between countries.

Employment experts are increasingly turning their attention to the question of whether a true work/life balance can really be achieved.

Mobile technology means employees can almost always be contacted, while a recent report by the Institute of Leadership and Management suggests that 94% of managers work longer hours than stated on their contracts.

Global management consulting firm Hay Group has delved into its database of employee surveys to explore how people feel about their work/life balance as well as the support they receive from employers.

More than two-thirds (39%) of respondents don’t believe they have a good balance between their work and personal lives.

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The research also suggests helping staff to achieve a good work/life balance can aid retention. Those organisations that do this well see fewer employees looking to leave (17% compared to 27%).

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UK Faculty of Public Health president John Ashton has called for the introduction of a four-day week as the norm for UK businesses.

“When you look at the way we live, the stress that people are under, [work-related] mental health is clearly a major issue,” he said. “We should be moving towards a four-day week because you’ve got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven’t got jobs.”

Hay Group European director Ben Hubbard believes that, if this is to become a reality, HR must play its part.

“Business and managers sometimes lack the momentum to change the status quo and don’t understand the potential benefits,” he said.

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Above: Responses to the statement 'My company supports me in achieving a reasonable balance between my work and personal life'. ILM research.