Makes sense for businesses to invest in families

It is encouraging that several organisations are implementing measures to enhance their employees' work-life balance, so as to promote their well-being and increase their productivity.

Surveys have found that work-life balance is the top motivator for employees to stay in their jobs.

The well-being of employees' families impacts a company's bottom line - the more a company invests to promote the health of its employees' families, the more returns it will gain.

When employees' families are strengthened and thriving, companies reap better returns as a result of increased productivity, improved work engagement and satisfaction, and higher talent retention.

On the contrary, when employees face too much work stress and have lesser time for their family, it could lead to less positive family relationships.

When families break down, organisations end up paying the high price that comes with the loss of employee productivity due to increased absenteeism and presenteeism, greater stress and anxiety, or time lost on the job with workplace affairs or divorce.

Strengthening the family also benefits the country.

In Britain, the social cost of family breakdowns exceeds the equivalent of $94 billion a year, or $3,155 per taxpayer.

The United States government spends the equivalent of $140 billion a year to offset family fragmentation.

If families are healthy and strong, society can avoid the immense social costs of family breakdown.

In a 2013 survey on work-life balance, more than half the respondents said their work demands ate into their family time more than they liked ("Family ties - good; family time - not so good"; May 27, 2015).

This was an increase from 47 per cent who felt this way in 2009.

And while organisations in Singapore providing at least one formal flexible work arrangement increased from 38 per cent in 2011 to 47 per cent in 2014, more can still be done.

Companies already promoting the work-life balance of their employees are on the right track.

Those who have yet to invest in this area are highly encouraged to do so - for the benefit of themselves, and for society.

Shelen Ang (Mrs)

Principal Trainer

Focus on the Family Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2016, with the headline 'Makes sense for businesses to invest in families'. Print Edition | Subscribe