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Work-Life Balance Not Affected By Hours or Pay

Work-Life Balance Not Affected By Hours or Pay

59% of British workers are happy with their work-life balance

Workers in London happy with work-life balance despite longest hours

Longer working hours during the recession has accelerated & lsquo;hard learning’ for some high-flyers

50% more women are unhappy with their work-life balance than men, driving demand for more part-time flexible roles among women

Working shorter hours does not necessarily make people happier with their work-life balance, according to research carried out by Randstad UK, the recruiter.

A survey of 2,000 employees revealed that those in the South East and Yorkshire & The Humber were most happy with their work-life balance, with 64% saying they were content, despite those in the South East having one of the longest average working weeks in the UK. Those least happy with their work-life balance were the East of England (51%) and South West (55%) – yet those in the South West have a shorter average working week than most of the UK.

REGIONS

Happy with Work-Life Balance

Median full-time gross weekly earnings

Average Hours Work / Week (Full Time)

South East

64%

&pound536.60

37h 47m

Yorkshire & Humberside

64%

&pound464.70

37h 13m

North East

63%

&pound455.10

36h 42m

North West

62%

&pound469.90

37h 2m

London

61%

&pound652.80

38h 24m

AVERAGE

59%

&pound505.90

37h 40m

East Midlands

57%

&pound464.40

37h 51m

West Midlands

57%

&pound469.20

37h 37m

South West

55%

&pound467.00

37h 32m

East of England

51%

&pound495.2

38h 21m

Randstad also compared the findings to the amount people in each region were paid.  The results suggest the amount people earn does not affect how happy they are with their work-life balance.  For instance, employees in the North East are paid the least in the country.  And while Londoners earn more than any other region, they are not as happy as those in the North West.  Workers in Yorkshire & The Humber earn less than the national average, but are happier.

Mark Bull, managing director of Randstad UK said, “Work-Life balance has become something of a national concern in the current economic climate as many people are under increasing pressure in both their professional and personal lives. But this research proves that the key to better balance is not simply to work shorter hours or earn more cash.  A more holistic approach is needed to find rewarding work that interests and engages us. It’s not simply about putting up with anything in return for more money or time.”

LONGER HOURS – HIDDEN BENEFITS

The destabilising of an employee’s work-life balance as a result of the recession may have hidden benefits.  People who embarked on their careers after August 2007 have developed professionally as part of very lean teams compared to those who started in the previous six.  This has pushed some employees into working longer hours but as teams have attempted to manage workloads on a reduced workforce, high-flying junior employees have taken on the work of more senior colleagues.  They have upskilled rapidly, creating a new generation of hyper-talented, passionate professionals.  A separate market intelligence report carried out by Randstad found that 70% of financial services professionals had stepped up to much more demanding roles through sheer necessity.  The 'all-hands-on-deck' mentality created during the recession meant that 73% considered themselves to be working at a higher level than their job title suggested, and were looking for the recognition and reward that they believed their achievement deserved.

Mark Bull said, “’Accelerated learning’ in small teams with stretched staff can speed up development allowing passionate high flyers to shine and improve their promotion prospects.  A lot of the best candidates we see – the top 15% – have seen their careers progress and gather speed, having worked in smaller, thinner, tighter teams.  A new cohort is emerging in Britain’s workforce which, thanks to the financial crisis, has excellent experience – albeit, perhaps, at the expense of their work-life balance.”

UTILITIES, INSURANCE, SOCIAL WORK, CONSTRUCTION & IT ALL HAPPIER THAN AVERAGE

Industry

I am Happy With My Work-Life Balance

Utilities

94%

Insurance

90%

Property

88%

Leisure

80%

Media

68%

Social Work

68%

Automotive

67%

Law

67%

IT & Telecoms

64%

Aviation

62%

Manufacturing

60%

NATIONAL AVERAGE

59%

Education

56%

Retail

55%

Rail

52%

Engineering

50%

Nursing

49%

Wholesalers

48%

Financial Services

47%

Accountancy

42%

People working in utilities said they were happiest with their work-life balance.  Employees in the insurance, construction and IT sectors also were happier than the national average – as were social workers.

Mark Bull said, “We know work-life balance isn’t just about pay – but we know there’s more to it than just hours as well. Social workers aren’t motivated by high salaries, while employees in construction, insurance and IT all work longer hours than the national average.  It appears employees in these sectors find their work particularly rewarding.  It may also have a lot to do with the blending of work and personal lives.  These people are passionate about their jobs and have a greater sense of integration between their professional and personal lives.”

Sectors hit hardest by government austerity measures and the effects of the global financial crisis are less happy with their work-life balance – as are those working in white-hot industries.  Professionals in education and nursing are feeling overstretched, as are financial services and accountancy professionals, along with those working in the engineering and rail sectors.

Mark Bull said, “I don’t think anyone would deny that nurses and teachers work extremely hard.  Equally no one goes into financial services on the expectation of a 9 to 5 job.  But at least those working in accountancy and financial services can be spectacularly well remunerated for the hours they put in.  Engineering professionals have been hammering away at The Shard for years and are now are busy trying to finish Crossrail for 2018-19.  8,000 people are working across 40 sites to build 26 miles of new tunnels and stations and 14,000 people are needed in the project's supply chain.  HS2 will only add to the frenetic pace - rail and engineering specialists’ work-life balance is set to remain out of kilter.”

PART-TIME WORK AND GENDER DIFFERENCES

Randstad’s latest market insight report, flexibility@work2013, shows the percentage of the UK’s total employed workforce working part-time has risen from 20% in 1990 and 23% in 2000, to 25% in 2010.

FIGURE 1: Percentage of UK workforce who work part-time

This is not a reaction to the changing demands of employers.  flexibility@work2013 suggests working part-time is a deliberate choice with less than 20% of part-time workers in the UK preferring full-time hours.

Mark Bull said, “The growth in flexible part-time employment that provides a better work-life balance is being driven by employees – not employers.  Four out of every five part-time workers don’t want to work full-time.  Part-time work is also a female phenomenon – in the UK only 12% of men work part-time compared to 42% of women.  With our study suggesting 50% more women are unhappy with their work-life balance than men, it’s clear more women are demanding part-time work to fit around their lives.”

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