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UK workers fall behind on work/life balance

Three-quarters of UK employees (73%) like to keep their work and home lives separate

Despite this almost a third (30%) don’t feel that they have a good work/life balance in their current role, a survey by Automatic Data Processing (ADP) found.

The study, which surveyed more than 2,000 workers across France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and the UK, found that UK workers have a tougher time separating their personal and professional lives than their European counterparts.

An average 33% of European workers surveyed felt a bad day at work affected their personal life, compared to 38% in the UK. Almost a third (30%) of British workers feel their work does not make a difference, suggesting that a large number of employees are regularly experiencing bad days at work.

Across Europe women tended to find a work/life balance more appealing, with 62% identifying it as a very important feature of their ideal job compared to 52% of men.

The younger the employee the less likely they were to identify work/life balance as important. Seventeen per cent of people aged 18 to 24 did not consider work/life balance an important part of their job, falling to 10% of people aged 40 to 49. Over-65s bucked the trend, however, with more than 13% not identifying work/life balance as an important feature of their ideal job.

Jeff Phipps, managing director UK and Ireland at ADP, said that a rise in flexible working may be the cause behind poor work/life balance. “The rise of flexible working, and the widespread usage of workplace technologies to support it, has brought many benefits yet organisations also risk encouraging an ‘always-on’ working culture. Employees faced with this working style are likely to become less engaged, and this type of working may even have a negative impact on productivity," he said.

Phipps added that it was important for employers to give people autonomy, and create a trusting workplace culture to tackle the issue.

“Technology has increasingly blurred the lines between work and personal lives, and HR teams and business leaders should give individuals the autonomy to choose what their work/life balance looks like. Finding the right individual solution can’t be achieved with a 'one size fits all' approach.

"Individuals that want to blend work and life and work more flexibly should be able to, while those that want to keep the two separate should also be able to. The most important thing is for businesses to create a culture of trust so that employees can be open when things are not going well and work together to fix it.”

ADP and Circle Research conducted an online quantitative survey in April 2018 of 2,518 employees across five countries (France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and the UK). The sample was a representative mix of employees by age, gender, full-time/part-time workers, salary brackets and seniority.