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Britain’s embattled business community enters 2012 with major concerns about striking a healthy work/life balance for its workforce, according to new research from Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade body for the group risk industry.
After enduring a difficult year where many businesses were obliged to reduce headcount, the survey of 500 employers with 5-1000 employees found that maintaining a good work/life balance for those remaining in the business ranked as the top health issue for more than one in five employers (21%). This is ahead of stress and mental health issues (19%) - currently cited as the most common cause for workplace absence.
The results suggest employers appreciate that a long hours culture can be beneficial in the first instance but can lead to problems with morale and could further increase stress related absence in the longer term.
Around 32% of employers suggest that their absence rate has improved over the last 12 months, with 50% believing their absence rate is lower than the industry average. However, according to GRiD, employers should guard against taking comfort from these findings as typically in times of economic uncertainty employees are more likely to turn up for work – even if they should really be at home.
Encouragingly, employers seem poised to take action to improve the situation in 2012. More than one in three (38%) said taking steps to improve work/life balance was top priority. By comparison, 27% said actively managing workplace stress was their key goal.