Key stats on the ‘work-life (im)balance’

work life balance

It’s National Work-Life week:  2nd Oct-6th Oct. A great opportunity for working families and their employers to focus on well-being at work and the work-life balance.

We thought we’d look at some of the key issues facing the UK workforce as we strive to get it right – it’s fair to say getting the work-life balance has become something of an obsession for us now.

“..Employers who afforded them a good work-life balance would benefit from more loyal (57%), motivated and productive employees (55%).” Modern Families Index

What is the Modern Families index?

The Modern Families Index is the most comprehensive survey of how working families manage the balance between work and family life in the UK. It has been published annually by charity Working Families and Bright Horizons Family Solutions since 2012.

Definition of the work-life balance: Getting the right balance between time (to spend with family) and earning or having enough income (to see their family thrive )’s definition is a bit more complex,  and rightly so – as it considers the concepts involved, but crucially they highlight the fluid nature of the balance:
“There is no perfect, one-size fits all, balance you should be striving for. The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives. However, at the core of an effective work-life balance definition are two key everyday concepts that are relevant to each of us. They are daily Achievement and Enjoyment, ideas almost deceptive in their simplicity.” (

Sadly, the Modern Families Index found that over a third of families say they don’t have enough time or money. “Only one in five families feels that they are getting it right. This is cause for concern and a call to action for positive change”. Sarah Jackson, Working Families

The more proactive you can be as an employer, by identifying the issues below the more attractive you will be to prospective employees. If you can address any of the issues below with your current workforce, you will reduce the impact on your business, retain your best staff and save yourself time and money in the long run.

Who answered the survey?

This year, 2,750 working parents responded with at least one dependent child aged 13 or younger who lives with them some or all of the time. The sample gathered equal numbers of fathers and mothers of all ages.
• Respondents represented a range of household incomes and family structures: the majority of respondents (78%) identified as being from couple households and in just under half (48%) of couple households both parents worked full-time.
• The most common household income was between £40,000 and £60,000 for couple households, and below £40,000 for single-parent households.

We’ve extracted some key findings from the survey we think you as employers will be particularly interested in during National Work-Life week:

Download the summary report or Download the full report

Time Vs Money

● 47% think that over the last two years it has become financially more difficult to raise a family. Time is an equally valuable currency for families:
● More than a third of parents (36%) said they would take a pay cut to work fewer hours.
● Millennials were more likely to agree: 41% would reduce their salary compared to 31% of older workers.The extra hours
● 72% of parents work at home in the evenings and at weekends, with 41% saying this happens often or all the time
● One in five parents working full time is putting in five extra weeks a year – the equivalent of their annual holiday allowance – in unpaid work, just to keep up with the demands of the job.

The Stress Factor

● 50% of parents agreed ‘my work-life balance is increasingly a source of stress’
● Almost half of parents are not comfortable raising the issue of workload and hours with their employer
● Twice the number of fathers compared to mothers believe flexible workers are viewed as less committed and over double the number of fathers believe working flexibly will have a negative impact on their career.

Key facts showing why employers’ need to get it right:

• 37% of parents felt resentful towards their employer about their work-life balance, including those parents that work flexibly, suggesting that there are also issues around workload and overwork.
• One in ten parents would consider resigning from work without having another job to go to.

Parents said they would leave employers who do not offer good work-life balance opportunities.

• In contrast, parents said that employers who afforded them a good work-life balance would benefit from more loyal (57%), motivated and productive employees (55%).

The Guardian wrote a recent article on ‘The part-time working revolution’, mentioning a teacher Andrew, who works four days a week. “He first went part-time when his son was born, and initially his day off was spent with the baby. But now that his son is three, Stone usually drops him at nursery in the morning, then comes home to spend the rest of his supposed day off marking or lesson planning.”

For Andrew, choosing to work 4 days is no longer a way of balancing work and family life, but of managing his workload. It’s a shame this ‘day off’ is more of a myth for Andrew and can’t be spent as social or leisure time – getting the ‘me time’ we all crave as part of this work-life balance.

It’s clear the working landscape is changing, due to many factors making an impact, a few being:

  • Automation of work – machines are and will increasingly replace jobs – and we have to see there could be many positives as a result of this.
  • Retirement age of women – there are more women aged 61-67 in the workplace who have found themselves needing to find work.
  • Companies’ budget cuts – have led to companies cutting staff, but the workload hasn’t changed.

It seems there is an ironic disparity in our workforce that we need to sort out. One the one hand, One in 10 Britons is classified as ‘overemployed’, i.e. they are working more hours than they want and would take a pay cut to do less.

On the other hand, there is another part of the workforce who would like to increase their hours, skill set and salary.

We must be able to use this to our advantage…and marry them up somehow!

The Guardian Download the summary report or Download the full report

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