Laid back, “she’ll be right” Aussies, take note, because the reality is that, you have claimed an unenviable prize. Unlike similar developed countries in Europe, like Germany for example, Australians work-life balance is by comparison, shite.
Ah, work-life balance, of course means different things to different people but generically can be defined as work that offers flexibility in hours, and location and that doesn’t interfere with our home life. So how do we know that Australians have the worst work-life balance in the developed world? Well that interference, the negative impacts of work on other areas of our lives, is measured on an index (the Australian Work and Life Index*.
In relative terms, if we consider just work hours alone, unlike many European counterparts, such as Germans and Scandanavians (who work on average a 35 hour week) Australians by contrast are putting in 50 hours a week. This increase in work hours just to get the job done is a familiar experience. “Working Families” an organisation in America has reported that 60% of people put in extra hours at work just to cope with expectations from employers and their allocated personal workload. And while this organisation made note that the people least likely to leave work on time are fathers aged 36-45, the world wide experience is that there is a wide range of people most negatively under pressure from work-life interference and it is particularly women that are impacted in greater terms (women generally have worse work-life outcomes than men, and do around twice as much caring and domestic work).
Our Living Your Dream Life survey matched the findings of other world wide dashboards, in that 45% of respondents have indicated that they don’t have fulfilment and happiness in their work. That being said, 55% say that they do, but there can be an inference made here that this to a degree represents a shifting mood of how people approach work, with these “happier” people structuring their work to suit and interfere less with other areas of their life, notably family and social connections.
How they have done this in a climate where others find themselves feeling far less than happy (in fact when it comes to work they are feeling nervous, depressed, tired and sick) will be part of our future work on this subject and a major chapter in the book Living Your Dream Life.
For now, check out our blog posts and video updates as we take this journey, a study of how we are re-prioritising the key areas of our lives. And join in. Take the survey!