Headlines: July 24th, 2001

Health bodies, local councils, police, prison service, schools, universities and organizations in the voluntary sector will each receive between 20,000 and 55,000 pounds to promote innovative working practices so their workers can enjoy a better work-life balance. All the organizations were successful in securing funding from the Work-Life Balance Challenge Fund which provides free consultancy support for employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors who want to develop and implement good policies and working practices for their workforce which, in turn, benefits their organization.The aim of the Challenge Fund is to promote a better quality of life and help people to cope with the demands of work with family commitments or other pursuits, while at the same time benefiting employers with a more committed workforce who are more productive and are more likely to stay with them for longer.

The Fund meets the costs of consultancy advice, tailored to the needs of the individual organization and its workforce. Consultants target advice to match the specific needs and circumstances of successful applicants. It might involve looking at the hours employees work, where they work, when they do their work, particular measures for parents and carers. Some employers need help to develop a work-life balance strategy and policies and to assess the costs and benefits of changing. Consultants also look at employee work patterns, find out what kind of working arrangements employees would like and explore solutions which meet both individual and business needs. They also look at cultural issues such as the ‘long hours’ culture.