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07:02:09: Study sheds new light on Australian skills shortage

According to a new study many Australian workers are struggling to strike a balance between work and personal life. The study, conducted by Sydney based research firm “instinct and reason” found that almost 1 in 3 Australians have recently left their job in order to improve their work - life balance.

David Donnelly of instinct and reason, says that the results send a clear signal to old fashioned companies who think that a big pay packet is all it takes to keep workers loyal.

We are now reaching crunch point. All of a sudden there is no one to replace the person who leaves. And so organisations are going to have to adapt from now on to providing their workers with work life balance.

More of this Story.

Together with instinct and reason’s global partners in 24 countries around the globe, we conducted a study interviewing 13, 832 persons on work-life balance issues.

Australia ranks 19th out of 24 countries on its level of satisfaction when it comes to balancing work and lifestyle.

Many Australian workers are struggling to strike a balance between work and personal life. Almost 1 in 3 Australians have recently left their job in order to improve their work - life balance.

David Donnelly of instinct and reason, says that the results send a clear signal to old fashioned companies who think that a big pay packet is all it takes to keep workers loyal.

Key Findings

Salience…

The study found that the issue of work life balance is salient to people right across the world. In fact almost half (49%) of all those interviewed in this study claimed the issue of work life balance was an issue for them.

Almost one in five of those interviewed (16%) reported that their work life was either ‘not at all balanced’ or ‘rather unbalanced’.

Impact….

Respondents were asked whether their work life balance had a negative impact on their health and more than one third (36%) of all those interviewed agreed.

The current balance between work and life was also seen to…

  • Interfere too much with their private life (34% agree)
  • Have a negative impact on relationships (28% agree)

Work Life balance defined as giving [more] weight to home issues...

Most saw the issue of work life balance to be to do with getting more time to spend with family and friends. A significant proportion also saw it as being about getting an improvement in their general quality of life and almost half of those interviewed also associated greater flexibility in working hours and greater cooperation between employees and employers as being important in work life balance.

What contributes to an unbalanced work life?

A number of factors were identified as causing a negative work life balance.

Namely…

  • The number of hours worked (62% agree)
  • Dissatisfaction with pay (53% agree)
  • Time it takes to commute (45% agree)
  • Not enjoying the work done (44% agree)
  • Not enough holidays/vacations (39% agree)

While work life balance clearly is an issue many people see pay and enjoyable work as mitigating aspects. The issue of work life balance in shown in greater relief when these other negative factors are also present.

Does work life cause dissatisfaction at work…?

In terms of job/work place satisfaction, the issue of work life balance is not the most dissatisfying aspect of their job or workplace. It is lacking ‘prospects for advancement’ that is the most mentioned dissatisfying element of the job or workplace across the world. This is followed closely by dissatisfaction with ‘salary’.

However, work life balance is still a dissatisfying aspect of work although it falls behind being ‘recognised for your performance’, ‘opportunities to do an interesting job’ and ‘job security’ in terms of how often it is mentioned.

In overall terms, 24% of all those interviewed claimed that the balance between their private life and work life is ‘not very satisfying’ or ‘not satisfying at all’. As a result many have tried to make an improvement in the work life balance with varying results. While 56% had tried to make a change only 16% of these people has achieved a substantial improvement and 29% reported some improvement.

Many have tried to change their work life balance…

Many (56% of all those interviewed) have tried to make changes in their work life balance in the last two years.

The areas where most people had tried to make improvements were…

  • To spend more time with family and friends (45%)
  • Improve organisational skills (44%)
  • Brought more flexibility into working hours (36%)
  • Take more holidays (35%)
  • Changed job (33%)

Can technology provide the answer?

Technology such as mobile phones (88% currently use), desk top computers (76%), digital cameras (51%), instant messages (35%) were widely used and many more intended to continue to buy more technology like this. However there was a substantial cynicism about technology’s ability to actually make an improvement to work life balance.

When asked what technology can help achieve a better work life balance it was a draw between ‘none’ of the technologies suggested and ‘mobile phones’ with 34% of all those interviewed.

Other technologies seen to be able to help improve work life balance were…

  • Laptop computers (26% agree)
  • Desktop computers (26% agree)
  • Digital camera (12% agree)
  • How satisfied are people with their job workplace?

Overall about one third of those interviewed (31%) were very satisfied with their job. A further 47% somewhat satisfied. However 14% were not very satisfied and 5% not at all satisfied with their job/workplace.

The most dissatisfying aspects of the job/workplace were…

  • Prospects for advancement (16% dissatisfied with this)
  • Salary (15%)
  • Recognition for performance (10%)
  • Having an interesting job (8%)
  • Job security (7%)
  • Work Life balance (6%)

The Government should intervene on work life balance...

Despite the relatively low levels of job/workplace dissatisfaction more than half of those interviewed (54%) felt that Governments should legislate for a better work life balance. While there is competition for limited work opportunities and for salary, people feel unable to make the changes they want to make to have a better work life balance. The work environment dictates that work must simply be done at all costs.

To request the Full Global Report, please click here.

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