Work/Life Balance Getting Worse
24 November 2014 at 11:39 am
Australian’s are “donating” $110 billion in free labour to their employers each year, according to a new report that claims the work/life balance is getting worse for more than 40 per cent of workers.
Research released by The Australia Institute has found that 4.9 million Australian workers have seen the balance between work and life deteriorate due to “excessive unpaid overtime”.
Walking the Tightrope: Have Australians achieved work/life balance? found that another 3.4 million people have seen an improvement in their situations, while 3.3 million have seen no change at all.
The research was released to coincide with Go Home on Time Day, an initiative now in its sixth year which promotes conversations about the significant physical and mental health consequences of poor work/life balance and the impact this can also have on workplace productivity.
According to The Australia Institute, on average full-time workers reported working six hours unpaid overtime each week and part-timers, three hours. This contribution adds up to the equivalent of $109.6 billion worth of unpaid overtime across the workforce.
“Australian policy-makers have failed dismally at finding solutions for what has become an enduring issue for workers. Finding ways to improve work/life balance shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of individual workers,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Dr Richard Denniss, said.
“It is disappointing that over the life of the Go Home on Time Day initiative we have not seen a more remarkable improvement in people’s circumstances, especially with regard to unpaid overtime. We might yet be having the same conversation in another six years.”
According to the research the vast majority (77 per cent) of people believe that employers have more power than employees in negotiating work/life balance, more than one-third of people (35 per cent) believe achieving work/life balance would harm their career, and a significant number (62 per cent) believe that laws are necessary to ensure that everyone can achieve work/life balance.
“For many Australian workers rocking the boat appears to be a genuine concern. If seeking better balance is perceived to be a threat to career prospects people are unlikely to freely raise the issue with their boss,” Director of Research, David Baker, said.
The Australia Institute conducted two online surveys of Australian workers for the research paper.
In August 2014 982 people were asked about their working hours and in November 2014 985 were asked about work/life balance.
Respondents were sourced from an independent online panel provider and earned reward points to participate. Results were post-weighted by age and gender based on the profile of the adult Australian population.