Over half of employees admit to thinking about work during own time but the majority don’t mind

21 December 2018

Brussels, 20 December 2018 - 55% of Europeans say they often still think about work during their private time but 72% of these have no trouble with combining their work and private lives. With the holiday season imminent, employers will have to be acutely aware of the sentiment across the workforce and judge how they can maintain the right balance for their employees. These are the results of a survey of five thousand employees in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom conducted by payroll and HR services provider SD Worx.

Almost four out of ten (37%) often view work emails outside working hours, while close to a third (31%) regularly still work during their private time, for example at night, at weekends or during holidays. Nevertheless, we are generally satisfied with our work-life balance. A lot has to do with freedom of choice and flexibility. For example, eight out of ten employees are satisfied with the flexibility of getting to choose their holidays.

Greatest flexibility in determining leave period

The better the work environment and the less time pressure individuals experience, the more satisfied they are with work-life balance. Naturally, the flexibility that employers offer to reconcile work and private life is important in this respect. 82% of employees feel that their employer is generally flexible when it comes down to this and 28% even experience it as very flexible.

SD Worx also assessed the extent to which employees can determine their own leave, working hours and finally the place where they work. Employees experience the greatest flexibility in determining their leave period, 81% find this to be the case. Ability to determine workplace is less obvious but 59% still feel that their employer is adaptable in this respect. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as for practical reasons, certain types of work can only be performed at the workplace.

Flexibility affects the work-life balance

There is clearly a correlation between obtaining flexibility at work and a good work-life balance: the more flexibility obtained from one's employer, the better the work-life balance. In Austria for example, 60.2% of employees answered that they have flexibility at work and a good work-life balance, contrasting with France where 39.3% of employees felt the same. The UK came a close second with 57.4%.

Impact on retention, satisfaction and engagement

The extent to which employees can properly combine their work and private lives has an impact on satisfaction and engagement. Nine out of ten of those who are able to reconcile work and private life are satisfied (87%) and engaged (86%). In the group where work and private lives are not in balance, only 21% are satisfied and 30% are engaged.

Finally, the intention to change jobs is twice as high in the group where work/life balance is not right: respectively 19% as compared to 10%.

Hilde Haems, Chief HR Officer at SD Worx Group comments: "What we are seeing today is a work-life blend: the two are becoming increasingly intertwined. Work is no longer limited to specific times or locations. Checking emails from time to time while on holiday is no longer exceptional these days, though it must remain a personal choice. The figures from SD Worx show that most employees do not have a problem with this. Of course, the aim is not to get the pendulum to swing in the other direction either. A good balance is important.

"We are however seeing two extremes at present: the first is that there are still environments in which a great deal of change is needed to be able to provide the flexibility that is an inherent part of the work-life blend. Secondly, there are environments in which this flexibility is being discussed with some concern. Examples here include the demand for the right to disconnect, initiatives such as no-email Friday and debates about a 30-hour week. More flexibility offers benefits to both employers and employees. Today, people can organise their work and lives in an increasing number of ways. Responding to this is a way of promoting workable work."

Contact details

About the survey

The Europe LTD survey is a questionnaire on one hundred work-related aspects relevant to employee satisfaction, motivation, involvement and engagement. Since 2009, the survey has been carried out annually among 2,500 Belgian employees under the name NV Belgium. Because of its international growth, SD Worx expanded this survey in 2017 to include Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria and the United Kingdom. It concerns 500 employees each time.

The sample is representative of the specific local labour markets, with the same composition as to statute ((blue-collar) workers, office workers and civil servants), gender, region, work regime, language, educational degree and organisation size as that of the active labour population in the countries concerned.

About SD Worx

As the leading European player in payroll and HR, SD Worx provides worldwide services in the areas of payroll, HR, legal support, training, automation, consultancy and outsourcing. It focuses on customer centricity, fully embraces digitisation and is committed to international growth. More than 65,000 small and large organisations worldwide have currently placed their trust in SD Worx and its experience of more than 70 years.

The 4,150 employees at SD Worx operate in ten countries: Belgium (HQ), Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Austria, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. SD Worx calculates the salaries of some 4.4 million employees and achieved a turnover of €443 million in 2017. SD Worx is co-founder of the Payroll Services Alliance, a global strategic network of leading payroll companies that together provide 32 million payroll calculations.

More info at: www.sdworx.com