· News

Only 36% have 'healthy work/family balance'

Almost one in 10 (8%) working parents feel they are doing a bad job both at home and at work

Two in five (42%) UK workers believe their ‘work/family balance’ is skewed towards work, with only a third (36%) reporting a healthy balance, according to research from Scottish Widows' think tank the Centre for the Modern Family.

Around four in 10 (42%) employees said they or their partner miss out on putting the children to bed or seeing them before leaving for work in the morning, and almost half (48%) said they do not have time to prepare or eat meals with their family. More than half (53%) feel they are missing out on seeing their children grow up, while 41% have had to let their family down on events or planned activities.

A third (34%) feel that their workplace productivity is lower because they are tired and stressed from trying to balance work and family. Almost one in 10 (8%) working parents said they felt they are doing a bad job both at home and at work.

The report suggested that increased flexibility at work is the most popular way to address the issue, with 60% of UK employees (and 61% of working parents) believing this would help create a better ‘work/family balance’. Almost half (49%) said that the ability to travel easily to and from work would help, while 47% (51% of working parents) cited being able to work from home.

However, only 34% of workers said that their employer currently offers flexible shift patterns. Three in 10 (30%) organisations polled said they would not consider offering flexible shift patterns, with 41% claiming they are unable to provide more flexibility because of concerns over productivity.

Anita Frew, chair of the Centre for the Modern Family, said employers could be doing more to support workers juggling the pressures of work and family. “It’s time to rethink traditional ways of working and move towards a more agile approach,” she said. “This will not only help employees forge a better work/family balance, but also improve productivity, returning benefit to employers.

“We need to show businesses and government that the nation’s ‘work/family balance’ has see-sawed too far in the direction of work. Together, a new approach must be found to help restore our equilibrium.”