50% of workers unhappy with their work/life balance…
In an age where flexible working is a recognised perk, and something often granted if requested, one could dare to think that the working life of the humble employee is improving. Coupled with more freedom to work from home, as employers recognise the positive impact on productivity from such a move, and due to advances in technology, you could be forgiven for assuming workers are happier now than perhaps they were ten years ago.
However, a survey by Forward Role Recruitment suggests not. Despite these cultural changes to working hours and location making a real difference to how our working day looks, employees still feel their work/life balance is as out of kilter as it ever was.
Almost half of those surveyed believe they spend too much time at work, with many confessing they feel close to burnout. Whilst digital technology has allowed us more freedom to escape our desks, it has also brought the premise of being – or feeling – available 24/7. Similarly, whilst working from home has undoubtedly helped some people with their childcare challenges, and also helped those with a long commute, it’s also allowed the lines between home and work to blur.
Women fare better than men, saying that they’re happy with their work routine and responsibilities. Perhaps this is due, in part, to women’s ability to multi-task? Maybe not. Polish co-founder of the translation company Wolfestone thinks multi-tasking can actually hinder productivity, as can an insistence that one’s work/life balance is perfect. Her conscious move to focus on one task at a time has seen the success of her business soar.
In contrast, Michael Hayman, co-founder of PR company Seven Hills, makes no effort to separate the two areas of his life. Exercising control over his technology rather than being a slave to it, and ensuring leisure time is pencilled into his packed diary, he feels no unbalance. After all, the best thing about our smartphones, laptops and tablets is that they all come with an ‘off’ button.
Karen Mattison, co-founder of Timewise, believes ‘work/life balance’ is a term that increases the pressure on people striving for something unattainable in this day and age; work/life ‘blend’, she prefers. Though this change of wording may not sound particularly significant, Karen has experience of the assumptions and attitudes that can arise from terminology. She thinks hirers should “stop judging achievement by how many hours are worked, and focus instead on what is delivered”. She adds, “‘Part time’ suffers from negative branding and is often perceived as only taking part responsibility. This is wrong.”
Recruiters’ help is invaluable when it comes to negotiating flexible working, location, and other elements of a candidate’s employment, but ultimately, it’s down to the employee to manage their work/life ‘blend’.