Human beings have been pursuing an equilibrium between their personal and professional life ever since work came about. With the average person spending one-third of their lifetime at work, the struggle is real. Technological advancement was supposed to lessen the burden and open up new possibilities for maintaining some form of harmony between personal time and time spent at work, but it backfired. Instead, it gave birth to the ‘always-on’ work culture. Work life balance stats indicate that almost 40% of employees have difficulties disconnecting from work when they are at home. Incredible right? Let’s see what other fascinating stats work life balance studies reveal.
According to 2019 work life balance research conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Netherlands is the country that has come closest to ensuring good personal health, safety, and low-stress levels to its citizens. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 9.4 points Italy is ranked second, followed by Denmark with 9 points.
It is a fact that Americans are hard-working people but US work life balance statistics show that although they spend more than 50 hours weekly at work, they only enjoy 11.4 hours of the week. In comparison with a country such as the Netherlands where the average employee dedicates 15.9 hours of their time to leisure and personal care, Americans fall behind. Out of the 38 countries included in the work life balance research, the USA takes the 30th position.
Work life balance facts astonish with the data that in a typical 50-year job stint, an average human being spends 4,821 days in the workplace. If you add overtime to this, then it becomes 14 years and 4 months. Impressive right? What is more impressive is that when items such as work, sleep, eating, socializing, etc. are taken out of the equation, it turns out a person has only 8 years and 2 months to enjoy life.
It’s easy to have a life outside your job if you’re working as a corporate recruiter. With a score of 4.1, people who recruit executive, mid-level and entry-level staff enjoy life after work much more than an average employee. Work life balance facts present UX/UI designers, data scientists, strategy managers as the professions that truly enjoy the benefits of work life balance.
All recruiters promise work-life balance during the hiring process but only a handful actually hold up their end of the bargain. According to Glassdoor’s research, apparel company Bombas with its inspiring philosophy —“one purchased=one donated” — is ahead of the curve in work life balance trends. Other companies listed by Glassdoor are biotech company 23andMe, and IT firms such as Ultimate Software, Greenhouse Software, Patagonia, Zoom Video Communications.
The workload is handled differently by both men and women, with females being better time managers and less likely to miss out on family events. Work life balance facts and time management statistics reveal that women are happier with how they juggle work and personal life. Women spend more hours on household activities (2.24 hours) which is probably why they have less time for sports and leisure (4.77 hours) compared to men who spend 5.51 hours on recreation. In addition, men tend to spend an average of 4.39 hours doing business at home.
The importance of work life balance is best revealed by considering how the workforce experiences it. Work life balance statistics show that for Boomers, as children who grew up in the post-war world, financial stability takes priority over the work-life balance. As children of parents with imbalanced personal and professional life, Gen Xers prioritize it. And finally, Millennials who grew up in a time of heightened job insecurity, prefer jobs that provide some life outside the work but guarantee security.
A 2014 work life balance survey concluded that the American employee works an average of 47 hours per week. A more recent survey showed a staggering 94% of employees who spend over 50 hours per week at work. This is a lot given that other first-world countries such as Sweden have already introduced the six-hours-per-day working norm.
US work life balance statistics demonstrate that around 7 out of 10 full-time workers stateside believe they do not dedicate enough time to their personal life because of their job. A fairly solid 33% of Americans are working on weekends and holidays.
(Small Business Trends)
Bad managers are the number one reason why employees feel their job consumes all of their precious time. Just under 40% (39%) complain they are working much more than the standard working hours and another 39% see inflexibility in the workplace as an issue. When it comes to what causes work/life imbalance, 31% of staffers are frustrated because of their colleagues’ incompetence and another 30% complain about long commutes.
(Small Business Trends)
Naturally, when hunting for a new job most people care about salary and benefits. However, nearly half of job hunters value the importance of work life balance and place it high on their list of preferences. Company culture which is closely related to employee happiness is also a major factor for 35% of job seekers. Work life balance statistics for the UK meanwhile show that 48% of applicants rate convenient commute as another top selling point.
As it seems, freelancing is uncovering an entire universe of possibilities for workers who crave personal and family time but still want to earn good money. The majority of full-time independent employees and 72% of contract workers are very satisfied with the flexibility their job offers. With 70% of freelancers expressing reduced stress levels since switching to flexible work schedules, there is no doubt that work life balance trends are shifting towards freelancing and jobs that don’t limit availability.
The short-term consequences of an imbalanced personal and professional life in the workspace are manifested in poor employee morale by 68%, reduced productivity by 36%, and a significant 41% turnover. Similarly, low work-life balance has a negative impact on the home. Just over half (51%) of employees miss important family events because of it and another 50% spend less time socializing as confirmed by work life balance statistics.
(Small Business Trends)
In the matter of what could be the long-term impact of the lack of harmony between work and other life commitments, work life balance studies provide some concerning data. Spending more than 55 hours on the job increases the risk of depression by 1.66 times. Overworked employees are more likely to suffer a heart attack or a stroke, and have 1.74x higher chances of developing anxiety. According to work life balance stats, employees who are expected to be available outside working hours have higher stress and cortisol levels.
(Small Business Trends)
The start of the workday varies for employees of different sectors. For 28%, the workday starts at 08:30 AM. Studies say that 40% of employees don’t start using their computers until after 10 PM. What is interesting is that although the workday ends around 6 PM, a solid 40% of employees continue to use their desktops and laptops after 10 PM. This inability of workers to disconnect emphasizes the negative work life balance trends which ultimately perpetuate the ‘always-on’ work culture.
An average full-time employee completes 74% of the work while on the clock. Believe it or not, more than a quarter of the work is done at home, out of which 71% is done before going to work or after, and 29% is done on weekends. In fact, in regards to work life balance in America, almost every employee spends an extra hour of work doing job-related tasks at home for 89 days of the year of which 28 are Saturdays and Sundays.
Work life balance stats and the use of mobile technology present some compelling data. Interestingly, 50.23% of employees say mobile technology helps them maintain social contact, and a little over 50% reckon it facilitates flexible working hours which ultimately results in reduced stress levels. As it appears, more than 63% of employees say they do not have any problem controlling the number of hours they spend on mobile for work purposes and a substantial 59.44 percent said they are enjoying the benefits of work life balance.
Technology usage is a double-edged sword as it has both advantages and disadvantages. Work life balance statistics indicate that 57% of employees feel frustrated because technology ruins their family dinner. With employers expecting a reply within the hour to messages and emails, 40% of breadwinners think it’s acceptable to answer an urgent work call during family time.
When thinking about what affects work/life balance, emails definitely get a spot. The average employee receives 304 emails per week, checks them 36 times within the hour, and loses 6 minutes to refocus after every email. Wasting time at work statistics reveal that product managers spend 37% of their time on communication, resulting in inefficiency and bringing work at home.
(Rescue Time, Atlassian)
Only 1-2% of the population effectively multitask. The rest are simply bouncing from one task to another which inevitably takes its toll on personal life. Work life balance stats relate this with 41% of job burnout cases. On any given day, the average employee uses a total of 56 apps and websites and switches between them approximately 300 times. So, it is no wonder that 38% of employees complain they lack focus, and 40% of knowledge workers barely get half an hour a day of quality-focused time.
(Rescue Time, Entrepreneur)
In terms of work life balance problems and solutions, almost 70 percent of breadwinners believe employers should offer flexible schedules. Statistics on work life balance further indicate that 55% of employees wish to be able to work outside the office. An additional 27% want unlimited paid time off and another 27% would be happy with restricted email replies.
(Family Living Today)
An incredible 96% of employees miss out on business meetings because they simply cannot manage the tight schedule and when they do attend, 91% daydream all through the meeting. Nearly a third (62%) of the monthly average time spent at work is dedicated to meetings. 24% of meeting-overwhelmed employees think their employers should create blocks of time without scheduling any meetings.
(Family Living Today, Atlassian)
Ideally, work-life balance is a harmonized arrangement between personal and professional activities. It refers to the continuous fight to separate the personal from the professional without allowing one to endanger the other. Interestingly, the term work-life was first used in the UK in the 1980s as part of the movement that fought for maternity leave for women and flexible work schedules.
An imbalance between the workplace and personal life leads to higher employee turnover, reduced productivity, and low engagement levels which is definitely not good for business. In general, employees with low work-life balance are more stressed and complain about workplace burnout.
There are several factors that influence the sense of accomplishment and enjoyment that comes from having a well balanced and meaningful life, regardless of whether it is professional or personal. Few people realize that health is a priority and even fewer accept that there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ work-life balance. The ‘perfect’ balance is achieved by learning to make personal time and set boundaries, goals, and priorities. It all boils down to finding a job that will positively fulfill every aspect of your work life while remembering it is important to unplug from time to time or take a vacation.
Employees who maintain a healthy work-life balance are happier, take fewer sick days and demonstrate high levels of productivity. To ensure their employees are healthy and productive, employers can offer perks such as access to gym facilities, childcare services, designated spaces for meditation, team-building, or flexible work schedules. And remember these perks cost but a penny compared to the 46% higher health-related expenses incurred by overburnt employees.
While probably everyone realizes the importance of maintaining an equilibrium between work and personal life in theory, these work life balance stats show that not many manage it in practice. Both employers and workers need to take specific steps to ensure a better work-to-free-time ratio which will ultimately deliver outcomes benefitting both sides.