Hours and pay are not key factors for work-life balance finds survey

Hours or pay not crucial to work-life balance

The key to a better work-life balance is not simply to work shorter hours or earn more money and working shorter hours does not necessarily make people happier. According to a new survey by recruiter Randstad those in the South East and Yorkshire & The Humber are most happy with their work-life balance, with 64 per cent saying they are content, despite those in the South East having one of the longest average working weeks in the UK. The survey also found that those working in property and construction (88%) were amongst the happiest with their work-life balance, coming third after the utilities and insurance sectors. Those least happy with their work-life balance were the East of England (51 per cent) and South West (55 per cent) – yet those in the South West have a shorter average working week than most of the UK.

The survey of 2,000 employees carried out by Randstad UK 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.”

The survey also found that 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

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 per cent – 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.”

By Sara Bean