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work life balance

Work/life balance gets harder

Working more and enjoying it less?

If the answer is “Yes” chances are you’re one of the nearly 5 million Australian’s whose work/life balance has deteriorated over the last five years.

A recent study by the Australia Institute, “Walking the Tightrope” found that 42% or workers considered that they were finding it harder to strike a healthy balance between the demands of work and other aspects of their lives.

The most commonly cited explanations for the problem were longer working hours and unpaid overtime. Job insecurity was also a major factor.

The report says that Australians "donate" almost $110 billion through 58.8 million hours of unpaid overtime every year, representing 14.7% of all hours worked, which it claims is "more than twice the hours required to provide employment for unemployed Australians".

Significantly though, the reports found that most workers did not want reduced hours and/or greater flexibility if it meant a reduction in pay.

Of course not! With the cost of living, especially of housing, rising and wage growth slow, few working people can afford to take home less.

And they shouldn’t need to. The whole idea of the standard working week is that it provides a good living wage, while the restriction on hours worked also helps ensure that there is work for everyone.

In fact as productivity increases through developments in technology, everyone should be able to work less – not more as is happening today.

Readers interested in reading the full Australia Institute report can find it at Walking the Tightrope: Have Australians achieved work/life balance?", The Australia Institute, November 2014.

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