Tag: work/life balance

Politician keen to better support employees’ work-life balance

Singaporean Member of Parliament (MP), Louis Ng, has called for the implementation of work from home (WFH) legislation and an increase in annual leave entitlement to address the country’s overworked workforce. In a speech to Parliament, Ng stated that these policies are necessary to improve work-life balance and reset existing policies. Singapore has been identified as one of the most overworked, fatigued, and stressful cities in previous surveys, making it crucial to address the issue.

Ng clarified that the WFH legislation would not make the arrangement mandatory, but it would grant employees the right to choose. Employers would still be able to require employees to work in the office for specific business-related reasons. Ng acknowledged the Tripartite Standards for Work-Life Harmony and the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangements, but emphasized that they were insufficient.

During the pandemic, WFH legislation was implemented, which benefited Singapore’s transport and healthcare systems, as well as addressed gender equality. However, this has since been replaced by Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangements, which Ng described as a step backward. He criticized the strange penalties for the guidelines, such as curtailing work-pass privileges.

Ng also called for an increase in the minimum amount of annual leave entitlement, citing the seven-day minimum as “extremely low” compared to other Asian countries. He recognized the need to balance the needs of businesses but stressed the importance of supporting the overworked workforce.

The Ministry of Manpower has stated that it has no plans to review the potential impact of WFH legislation but expects WFH arrangements to become more mainstream.

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71% of workers desire a stable job with a good work/life balance

According to a recent from Seek’s Jobstreet and JobsDB the Boston Consulting Group and the Network, 2023 will remain a jobseekers’ market in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, despite a possible economic slowdown.

The study, which surveyed 97,324 respondents in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, found that 34% of talent surveyed are actively looking for a new job.

The top three motivations for searching for a new job are: looking for a more interesting position or higher seniority (49%), lacking opportunities for upward career progress at current place (30%) and unsatisfied with salary and benefits at current job (27%).

According to the study, workers feel confident to look out for new opportunities despite fears of recession as majority surveyed are aware of their attractiveness to employers. It also found that 74% of talent around the region are approached multiple times per year about new job opportunities, and 36% of those are approached every month. In Singapore, these numbers are equally high at 75% and 31% respectively. In addition, 70% of the region’s respondents and 62% of Singaporeans feel that they are in a strong negotiating position when looking for a job.

Peter Bithos, Chief Executive Officer, Asia, Seek, commented: “When faced with a possible recession, the balance of power in the labour market tends to shift towards employers as hiring tightens. However, we believe the situation is different this time as many organisations in Asia are still recovering from the jobs lost during the pandemic. While hiring growth may slow down during times of uncertainty, there is no doubt that it is still a jobseekers’ market right now, and so it’s important for employers to know how to attract, recruit and retain talent.”

Among top priorities, the study found that 71% of workers stated that they desire, above all, a stable job with a good work-life balance. This preference is dominant across job roles, countries, and age groups.

This is in line with jobseekers’ deal breakers​ when​ looking for a new role, with 17% citing work-life balance as a deal breaker, ranking second only after financial compensation (22%). The amount of paid time off and job security is also important to jobseekers, with both categories ranking third.

The report showed that those working in IT roles are the most coveted talent across Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, as they are frequently approached with job opportunities on a weekly and monthly basis.

“Despite the waves of layoffs by tech companies in the region and around the world, the demand for tech talent still remains based on the report’s findings. This is consistent with Seek’s observation of a 29% YoY (2021 vs 2022) increase in job ads for tech roles in the region, based on data from our JobStreet and JobsDB platforms,” added Bithos.

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31% of the workforce sees themselves working from the office full-time in future

A study by Unispace has found that the pandemic and associated work-from-home guidance saw more men than women find a better balance between the office and home. This underscores the need for companies today to create spaces and flexible working approaches that drive equity across all genders. 

According to the Unispace study of 3,000 employees working across Europe, male office workers found a better work/life balance when working from home during lockdown than women (71% vs. 68%). When participants were asked if they feel they can prioritise family and loved ones more after the pandemic exactly the same proportion –  87% – of both groups said yes. That’s according to the new paper, Shifting the Gender Discussion, published by Unispace. 

When looking at those who were hesitant to go back to the office, the top concern expressed by male respondents was a preference to be at home to work around child and carer arrangements, with almost a third (32%) citing this explanation. Fewer women (29%) indicated the same sentiment.

Levelling the playing field

Unispace’s research also revealed that before the pandemic, female employees were more likely than their male counterparts to be completely office based (73% vs. 69%). Men were more likely to be working in a predominantly office-based hybrid way (25% vs. 18%), suggesting a pre-pandemic inequality in flexible working approaches among genders. 

However, when participants were asked about where they are likely to work in the future, exactly 31% of both groups foresaw themselves working from the office full-time, suggesting that there is an immediate opportunity for employers to create spaces and flexible working approaches that drive equity across all genders.

Chely Wright, Chief Diversity Officer at Unispace commented: “While the pandemic had catastrophic consequences for communities across the globe, it has also been a chance to press reset and shift the norm on many aspects of society – the conversation on work-life balance included. 

“When we know better, we do better. Our data shows that we have an opportunity to advance the discussion about equity in the office environment and flexible working policies from a gender-based lens. 

“The employers and companies today that are able to attract and retain the best and most diverse talent will be those that ensure their workforce strategies, working policies and office spaces provide the flexibility and equity needs of all genders. This is a chance for employers to reframe how people of all genders are encouraged back to work and experience their office environments.”

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Mentions of “burnout” increased by 86%

Even though the pandemic brought the mental health of workers into sharp focus it’s two years on and new data from Glassdoor has revealed that employee discussions around burnout, overwork and mental health are continuing to increase.

According to the survey of 2,000 workers by Glassdoor, one in two (52%) people consider work/life balance a key contributor to good mental health and a priority when job hunting. So to help job seekers understand what it’s really like to work at a company, this World Mental Health Day Glassdoor has revealed the top 20 companies that employees say are the best for work/life balance in the UK.


The research2 by the Glassdoor Economic Research team found a steep increase in mentions of burnout, overwork and mental health in employee reviews between 2019 and 2022. Burnout saw the largest increase, soaring 86%, while mental health mentions climbed 21% and overwork 15%, indicating many workers are still struggling to find a good work/life balance.

Glassdoor economists also analysed more than 400,000 reviews by UK-based employees who each shared anonymous feedback and ratings on their employer’s approach to work/life balance to compile a list of the  UK’s highest rated companies for work-life balance.

For the second year running, employees ranked The Office for National Statistics (The ONS) as the best company for work-life balance in the UK, scoring 4.6 out of 5. The ONS is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and is the recognised national statistical institute for the UK.

The top 10 UK companies for work/life balance are:

  1. The Office for National Statistics (4.6 Glassdoor Work-Life Balance rating out of 5)
  2. Heron Foods (4.6)
  3. Fidelity International (4.5)
  4. ServiceNow (4.5)
  5. AND Digital (4.5)
  6. Hyperoptic (4.5)
  7. Bank of England (4.4)
  8. Sage (4.4)
  9. MBDA (4.4)
  10. Schroders (4.4)

Analysis of ratings by industry found that employees ranked tech as the best sector for work-life balance, with a rating of 4.0 out of 5. Aerospace & Defence (3.9), Media and Communication (3.9) and Legal (3.8) followed.

Industries with the lowest work/life balance ratings are Transportation & Logistics (3.3), Retail & Wholesale (3.3) and Restaurants & Food Service (3.1).


When it comes to job satisfaction, Glassdoor’s Economic Research team found that work/life balance is more important to employees than pay. Furthermore, the study showed that flexible working – whether from home, the office or hybrid – can help achieve greater work–life balance as flexibility allows employees to work in a way that best suits their lives.

The survey found that most flexible workers surveyed report better work/life balance (59%) and improved general happiness (60%). These employees also feel better able to attend to personal responsibilities, such as caring for children or life-admin (59%) and have more autonomy over their work (70%). More than half surveyed (53%) also say flexible working has helped with the rising cost of living.

Jill Cotton, Career Trends expert at Glassdoor commented: “The stigma around discussing mental health in the workplace is lessening, and there is increased awareness of how our mental state can affect our productivity at work and our overall happiness. The Glassdoor list showcases amazing examples of companies which have implemented multiple initiatives to help protect their employees’ wellbeing. This includes offering flexible working which allows employees to balance their home and work lives in a way that works for them.

“However, there is still a way to go – UK workers remain overworked, and burnout is on the rise. Employers need to create a transparent culture and provide a range of support to protect employees’ wellbeing.  Workers who are struggling with their mental health or work-life balance should feel comfortable to be open with their team or line manager and ask for support and help in setting boundaries.”

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The average person spends around 23 days a year commuting to and from work

With 24% of Brits hybrid working and 14% working from home exclusively, a large part of the workforce still travels to and from work daily with evidence stating that even an extra 10 minutes of commuting can drastically reduce overall job satisfaction. New research from the flexible working company Easy Offices ranked the worst commutes across the UK.

Who has the longest commute?

It comes as no surprise that Londoners have it the worst, with research showing the average Londoner spends 80 minutes travelling to and from work by car, train or bus daily, racking up around 27 hours a month of travel time.

Outside of the Capital, residents in the Surrey town of Guildford face the second longest commute in the country, at 58 minutes a day and 19 hours a month.

The research, conducted by the ONS, looked at the median commuting time across the country and all transport types to determine who spends the most time travelling to work.

Of the top 10 regions with the most extended travels, East London has it the worst, with commutes in places like Chelmsford, Luton, Cambridge and Huntingdon taking up to 19 hours a month.

On the opposite end of the scale, residents in North West London have it the best, with those in Carlisle and Burnley travelling for just 28 minutes a day or up to 11 hours a month.

See below for the top 20 longest commutes:

City Minutes Spent Commuting Per Day Hours Spent Commuting Per Month
London 80 27
Guildford & Aldershot 58 19
Chelmsford 56 19
Bridgend 56 19
Luton 52 17
Eastbourne 52 17
Nottingham 52 17
Cambridge 50 17
Huntingdon 50 17
Reading 50 17
Barnsley 48 16
Bedford 48 16
Bristol 48 16
Birmingham 48 16
Canterbury 48 16
Leeds 48 16
York 48 16
Coventry 48 16
Derby 46 15
Worcester 46 15

The future of flexibility

It’s alarming to note that the average person spends around 23 days a year commuting but rising costs and a difference in how we work is changing this.

Half of Brits (46%) would like to work from home more often to avoid mounting fuel costs, and 30% would prefer their companies to offer a flexible hybrid approach, which enables people to choose which days to work remotely vs in the office.

With that in mind, more companies can help their teams combat increased costs and improve workplace satisfaction by offering more flexibility, not just in how they work but where they work too.

John Williams, Chief Marketing Officer at Easy Offices said: “With an extensive portfolio of coworking space, serviced and managed offices in the UK, Easy Offices can help commuters find an office that is flexible, affordable and ideally located to shorten the daily commute or even cut it out. We know that commuting can add stress to the workday and at Easy Offices we are committed to helping reduce the workday stress across the UK.”

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Can employers help the UK sleep better?

According to Nuffield Health’s latest research, 74% of UK adults have reported a decline in quality sleep over the past 12 months and a further 10% are only sleeping for 2-4 hours per night. More than 50% don’t believe that quality sleep builds immunity.

The survey of 8,000 UK adults has highlighted that the number of people experiencing insomnia increased to one in four, following the pandemic. Google searches for ‘insomnia’ skyrocketed and most searches happened in the early hours of the morning.

The research revealed that 35–44-year-olds get the least sleep, with almost 50% getting only 5-6 hours per night. A mere 33% of respondents get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Sleep deprivation is though to cost the UK economy £37 billion a year in lost productivity due to poor sleepers having reduced reaction times and trouble concentrating, increasing the likelihood of accidents and costly mistakes. Chronically disrupted sleep increased the risk of work absence by 171%.

The evidence indicates that there is both a need and an opportunity to help workers improve their sleep hygiene. Nuffield Health advises employers who wish to enhance sleep quality amongst their workforce:

Outline expectations – Employers need to define expectations, such as work hours, to encourage better sleep patterns. Avoid scheduling early morning or late evening calls, and let employees know that they are not expected to respect to respond to emails outside of working hours.

Train for triggers – Managers need to learn to spot the signs of sleep-deprived workers, such as mood swings, poor attention, distraction, copious amounts of coffee and yawning. Once spotted, a line manager should be trained to guide co-workers to access the relevant occupational health services available. Understanding that sleep support is essential and should be incorporated into the company’s values.

Promote physical health – Employers must emphasise the benefits of exercise in regulating sleep patterns. For example, going for a run or brisk walk during lunch hours provides exposure to natural daylight which, in turn, promotes healthy sleep hormones.

Employers can also provide advice around nutrition and caffeine to help individuals make healthier choices.

Offer specialist support – The stresses of everyday life, such as finances, addiction, or family problems can negatively impact sleep quality.

When employees see signs of emotional difficulty, the affected individuals should be directed towards the relevant emotional wellbeing support available to them, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or employee assistance programmes.

Employers can also consider additional support, for example, inviting a sleep specialist to run an online seminar on best practice habits before bed, such as avoiding blue light devices and keeping the bed for sleep only.

Gosia Bowling, National Lead for Emotional Wellbeing Nuffield Health, commented: “Many businesses have adopted a ‘hybrid’ approach to working and it’s important to note this ‘new normal’ won’t automatically facilitate perfect sleeping patterns. That’s why it’s crucial employers ‘wake up to sleep’ and work with their healthcare providers to support their workforce.

“Taking a holistic view on health – including offering interventions that cover the full range of risks – is the only way to get back to maximum wellbeing and create a healthier nation.”

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Hybrid workers are more satisfied than their counterparts

According to new research from Glassdoor, workers discussing hybrid work are far more satisfied in their roles than their non-hybrid counterparts. In addition, these workers are nearly half as likely to look for a new role as other employees.

Glassdoor looked at over 527,000 reviews by UK workers to examine how hybrid work impacts employees and their job hunting behaviour.

The findings show that ‘hybrid’ is a hot topic amongst employees: overall, mentions of the word grew 17 times year on year (up over 1,600%). In addition, positive discussion of ‘hybrid’ has soared by 3,682% since the beginning of the pandemic.

Anonymous reviews by employees showed that hybrid-reviewing workers rated their companies significantly higher for every workplace factor than non-hybrid workers, indicating that the former had greater satisfaction in their role.

Work-life balance showed the starkest difference for employees who mention ‘hybrid’, with a rating of 4.4 out of 5 versus 3.8 for those who don’t.

The research also revealed that while 25% of hybrid and non-hybrid workers click on job ads within a week of leaving a review on Glassdoor, those who do not mention hybrid working are almost twice as likely to start job applications. In total, 2.4% of hybrid employees applied to a new job within a week of leaving their review compared to 4.3 % of other employees – a 43% difference.

In addition to their data analysis, Glassdoor also surveyed 2,000 UK office workers to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of successful hybrid working patterns on employees.

The majority of respondents enjoy flexible working, with 71% of hybrid workers in full-time employment agreeing that they are happy with their arrangements.

When looking at the benefits of flexible working:

  • 58% said they were more productive
  • 63% were generally happier
  • 64% reported improved work-life balance
  • 74% said they enjoyed greater autonomy over their work
  • 66% were more able to attend to personal responsibilities such as caring for children or life-admin
  • 49% said they were less likely to look for a job because of the flexibility to switch between home and their workplace
  • 58% said flexible working helped them manage the increased cost of living
  • 23% said that commuting made it harder to cope with the increased cost of living

There are, however, negative aspects of hybrid working which show the importance of having good underlying policies in place:

  • 43% of hybrid workers have found it harder to connect to their colleagues,
  • 41% have struggled to learn from their peers
  • 41% have found it challenging to build a relationship with their manager or senior colleagues
  • 35% of hybrid workers feel that their working arrangement has stunted their progression

Lauren Thomas, UK economist at Glassdoor, commented: “In today’s tight labour market where there are record levels of job vacancies and unemployment is low, employees are the driving force for changing how we work. While some companies may be reluctant to allow hybrid working, Glassdoor’s research shows that workers are generally happier, more productive and less likely to consider leaving if they are allowed autonomy and flexibility over their working pattern.”

“However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the world of work post-pandemic. Companies need to introduce proper hybrid working policies for those who are at the start of their career, or are not managers, to continue to learn, flourish and make connections at work. The key to successful hybrid working is creating a workplace community and culture that supports employees professionally and personally.”

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Only one-third likely to have a break before Christmas

One in three UK office workers will not be able to take any annual leave between now and Christmas due to staff shortages, according to The Annual Leave Allowances survey from Just Eat for Business.

In the survey, UK employees were asked how and when they utilise their annual leave, whether they are encouraged to take breaks, and how time off impacts their work/life balance.

Annual leave is essential for rest, relaxation, and re-energisation, but the survey results revealed that many workers are forced to ‘burn the candle at both ends’ due to understaffing.

According to findings, 21% of office workers regularly or always have their time off requests denied due to staff absences, and 16% repeatedly have their annual leave requests rejected to accommodate workloads. In addition, the research showed that one in three people are set to have their annual leave continually rejected between now and Christmas due to a lack of resources, thereby further depleting their work/life balance.

The trend is unlikely to change for the rest of the year, with many workers with children working hard to make up for drops in productivity over the summer holidays and ahead of the October half term.

A recent report listed labour shortages as the ‘most urgent problem’ facing the UK economy. Over a third of UK businesses regularly have to turn down work due to staff shortages, and this is projected to continue for the next two years.

The survey revealed that even when employees can get time away from the office, 25% cannot avoid working while on holiday, as they’re likely to be contacted to help deal with absences or work queries.

The lack of annual leave has also resulted in 16% of employees using their allowance to cover medical appointments.

The mental health implications are also great, with 44% of employees feeling burnt out at work, with a third finding that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is the most stressful aspect of work.

Will Foster, Professor of Leadership at Keele University, commented: “It’s essential that if the ‘espoused’ values of the organisation include employee wellbeing and restorative breaks, then leaders need to prioritise that. “

“Management must do the hard work of ensuring the structures, roles, responsibilities and staffing levels align so employees can take a ‘true rest’ when needed, regardless of the time of year and understaffing issues.”

Anni Townend, Leadership Partner, added: “Annual leave is an important part of a much bigger picture of looking after our life-work balance and of creating a positive work culture, particularly throughout the festive period.”

“The danger of not taking annual leave is that we lose our ability to switch-off and to disconnect from work. This can impact our sleep patterns and our ability to concentrate, as well as cause extreme mood swings and a weakened immune system.”

Rosie Hyam, People Partner at Just Eat, also commented: “Given the emphasis on employee well being and work-life balance over the last few years, it’s essential that employers are receptive to flexible working arrangements, and that they allow employees to take time away from work when needed.”

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Oxford, Sheffield, and Worcester workers report working the longest days

Recent research commissioned by workspace brokerage Office Freedom has revealed that 87% of workers are working longer hours than they are contracted to. In addition, most have agreed that they are doing more when working from home.

Two thousand office workers participated in the survey to uncover working habits across the UK. The survey compared trends and patterns between cities, regions, ages, and genders.

According to the survey:

  • Workers in Oxford, Sheffield, and Worcester have the longest working day, at an average length of 7.3 hours.
  • Over 80% of respondents work more than they are contracted to.
  • 28% of men state that they work more hours than contracted daily, compared to 13% of females.
  • 63% of workers take a maximum of 30 minutes for lunch. Workers in the West Midlands take the longest break, whereas workers in the South West take the shortest breaks at an average of 25 minutes.
  • One-third of workers are taking longer lunch breaks when working from home.
  • Despite the long working days and employees putting more hours into their jobs, 37% of workers feel they are not rewarded for doing a good job.
  • Common benefits among all employees are high street discounts, health and wellbeing initiatives, insurance, and extra holidays.
  • 45% of respondents rated their company highly for being appreciative, with companies in Scotland being the most highly rated.
  • Across all regions, 67% of respondents enjoy where they work.
  • Younger workers are more likely to enjoy where they work than those aged 35 and over.
  • Since working from home and hybrid working were introduced, most employees state that they enjoy working more than previously.
  • 42% would be disappointed to return to five days in the office.

A spokesperson from Office Freedom said: “It seems that the flexibility of hybrid working has enabled more people to enjoy their jobs and take away some of the day-to-day stresses, like commuting, for example.”

“Rather than spending hours on the train or in the car, it’s apparent many would rather put that time back into their working day.”

“This new way of working is here to stay, especially now that the benefits have been realised by both companies and employees. Inevitably, working habits have changed for the better and it’s now time for companies to embrace the shift and ensure their initiatives and expectations align with the new norm.”

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Half of employees report higher productivity with new arrangement

The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) has just announced a decision to implement a four-day work week for its 820 employees with no reduction in salary.

Following a large-scale, two-year trial the company took the decision in response to positive employee feedback. According to a staff survey:

  • 83% of employees reported that they were happier
  • 50% of employees felt that they were more productive
  • 42% reported increased energy levels
  • 40% experienced better mental health

According to MTC’s calculations, the new flexible working arrangement will save 664 tonnes of carbon each year, helping the company meet its sustainability goals.

The trial began in April 2020 and gave 615 employees across the organisation a variety of  flexible working arrangements – one of which was a four-day week.

Alongside the employee feedback, Loughborough University conducted a separate external evaluation and found that employees felt “overwhelmingly positive” about the arrangement and that it was also a very attractive feature for new recruits.

MTC will now work with various industrial partners, including Rolls-Royce, Siemens, and Meggitt, to share their data and lessons learnt from the trial.

Vicki Sanderson, HR Director at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, said: “We’ve been operating flexible working patterns since April 2018, but employee engagement surveys have shown that staff wanted to extend this further.”

“We explored a range of options, including researching what was important for Millennials and Generation Z, as 79% of our workforce fall into these categories. Work-life balance was the priority, and our survey results reflected this.”

“The positive impact on staff was evident. After 12 months of the trial, 96% wanted the Fully Flexible Working Week to be adopted permanently, and these changes have had a direct impact on improving the mental and physical wellbeing of our employees, while improving business productivity.”

“We know that in manufacturing especially, it’s very difficult for some roles to be offered flexibly, for example, the opportunity for more home working. But other ways to do this should be considered, and our study has proved this is possible,” said Sanderson.

Dr Clive Hickman OBE, Chief Executive of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, said: “Flexible working has been the norm at the MTC long before the pandemic, but employees told us there was more we could do. The result is our Fully Flexible Working Week, including a four-day week, which I’m proud to be making permanent. The MTC is striving to become the most attractive employer in the country, and this is a big step towards achieving that.”

Dr Ella-Mae Hubbard, Lecturer at Loughborough University and author of the external evaluation, said: “It is clear from our study that there are strong feelings about the trial. For the MTC employees, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and for newer members of staff, these new policies were one of the main reasons that they joined the MTC.”

Andrew Peters, Managing Director at Siemens Digital Industries Congleton, said: “Siemens AG quickly committed to a permanent hybrid way of working and while this has provided many of our employees more flexibility, the management of this change has been of critical importance.”

“Central to managing this has been lots of active listening, open communication, and empathetic leadership. We have taken an agile approach in making small changes, seeking lots of feedback from our employees before committing to bigger decisions. Alongside this, we are also dedicating more of our time to adapting and developing our culture.”

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