FAMILY-FRIENDLY employment policies and practices have a long way to go before they are even seriously considered by most Hong Kong workplaces. The findings of a recent survey suggest that working mums and dads will have to continue their struggle to maintain any sort of a work-life balance for some time to come. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the Women's Commission (WoC) have jointly announced that family-friendly employment policies and practices were minimal in Hong Kong, although the benefits of these to both employers and employees were widely recognised internationally. Lingnan University conducted the study at the request of the two commissions. Between February and May this year, Lingnan reviewed previous studies of family-friendly corporate policies; surveyed different enterprises to gauge their levels of awareness of such policies and how far they had gone in implementing these policies; and spoke to employees to identify the main causes of work-family conflict among workers. The level of divide on the issue between employers and employees was revealed by the fact that only 137 valid responses came out of the 6,600 enterprise surveys sent out. These participating companies were found to employ more than 160,000 people. For the employee survey, 735 employees from 17 companies were invited to take part, and 653 valid responses were received. Only 37.2 per cent of the companies that responded were aware that family-friendly policies were being implemented in Hong Kong. On announcing the results of the survey, EOC chairman Raymond Tang said family-friendly employment policies, regardless of an employee's family status, gender or degree of ability, gave people the flexibility to combine work and other responsibilities. 'This initiative [of family-friendly policies] would help employers and employees find ways to address the work-life balance to benefit business and in the end reduce social costs,' Mr Tang said. 'Family is a foundation of society.' To ensure effective implementation of such policies, employers should offer flexible and varied work arrangements to match employee needs. Measures could include flexible work hours, a compressed work week, home-based work and family-care leave. The top five benefits of adopting pro-family policies and practices, as identified by the respondents, were: a reputation as being an employer of choice; improved morale; increased ability to attract high-performing and experienced employees; improved working relationships among colleagues; and reduced turnover.