Happy workers better for business, and business owners are the happiest of the lot: Research

Work-life balance among Australian workers is waning but bosses and younger employees in small businesses are happiest, according to new research by flexible workplace services provider Regus.


The report also found Australian business owners were the happiest workers.


Jacqueline Lehmann, the country head of Regus Australia, says this wasn’t a surprise given the control entrepreneurs have over how they work.


“Business owners are slightly more satisfied with their work-life balance than employees are, which sends quite a strong message that when you’re more in control of how you organise work, you’ll probably do a better job and you’ll feel better about what you’re doing,” Lehmann says.


Small businesses had a higher rate of happy staff, the report says. Almost 70% of staff working in companies with fewer than 50 staff said they were enjoying work more this year, compared to almost 60% of those employed at larger businesses.


Lehmann says business owners could do more to increase flexibility and work-life balance, and that this would lead to bottom line and talent retention benefits.


“As a team, you should sit down together ask how can we organise our work so we are more productive for the organisation. Can we work smarter and have less stress?” Lehmann says.


She adds the pressure of a regular commute and having to fit family, fitness and extra interests into the gaps around a full-time job are significant, and that those who aren’t assertive in adjusting their work are more likely to move on.


The report found Australian baby boomers were less likely to report they were achieving more this year (63% compared to 81% last year).


“This finding was surprising to me,” Lehmann says.


“Even though the youngsters are working more, they still feel better about how they work. When we look at younger members of the workforce, they are looking for completely different things in a job, and they’re not the people who want a rigid schedule. They want to use new technology and have some say in how they organise their work. They are probably also a bit better equipped, and more assertive in demanding that.”


Globally, 60% of workers said they were working longer hours because they were still managing additional duties picked up during the global financial crisis. Fewer baby boomers (50%) were spending more time at work than Gen X and Gen Y (58%).


“My generation hasn’t known anything else until quite recently. No one ever asked us how much time we lost in the commute, and how stressful that balance was. Younger employees are a lot more outspoken. They want to have a say.”


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