Small firms beat larger rivals in work-life balance health: Report

Small businesses are more likely to have a healthy work-life balance than their larger counterparts, but 60% of employees are still working harder and longer hours than two years ago, a new report reveals.


The Regus Work-life Balance Index, which is based on a survey of more than 16,000 business professionals in more than 80 countries, measures job satisfaction and opinions on work-life.


The report shows Australian workers believe their work-life balance has improved substantially since the financial downturn, with the index registering a 36-point rise between 2010 and 2012.


Encouragingly, Australians have a better work-life balance than the global average. The Australian index score sits at 129 points, which is five points above the global average of 124.


But the report also reveals the gap between small and larger businesses is widening.


People working in SMEs are more likely to feel they have a better work-life balance, with 42% of workers at large firms spending more time at the office compared to 29% of SMEs.


Australians are also working harder than two years ago. More than half of the Australian workers surveyed admit they have taken on additional duties since the global economic crisis.


However, employers are focusing on reducing commute times to improve employees’ work-life balance.


More than a third (34%) of respondents said businesses have implemented practices to shorten employee commute times.


As a result, more than two-thirds of workers are enjoying their jobs more now, and are happy with the time spent between work and home.


According to William Willems, Regus vice president for South East Asia, the results confirm Australians are working harder than two years ago, and are spending more time at work.


“Despite the increase in time and energy, Australians still enjoy a better work-life balance and are working less hours than the OECD average,” Willems says.


“Australians are also more satisfied with the time spent between work and home compared to workers in the US, UK and France.”


“[This suggests] that Australian firms are acknowledging the need for work-life practices to produce happier and more productive staff.”


Willems says the research is a significant reminder for companies to adopt a more flexible approach to work, which will produce happier and more productive employees.


“There are many measures businesses are adopting to make employees improve work-life balance, including enabling workers to travel out of peak time, to work from locations closer to home, and to work outside the standard nine-to-five hours to spend more time with family,” he says.


“[This], in turn, will help impact the business bottom line.”


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