Tag Archives: work-life balance

Want to be your own boss? Think hard about it before you take the plunge

figure_work_life_balance_500_wht_13760Working for yourself is not the bed of roses assumed by many fed-up employees.

Research shows that self-employed people work the longest hours for the worst pay.

So you’re not going to get rich quick and forget work-life balance!

The self-employed work longer hours with a third putting in more than 45 hours a week and 1/8 working 60 hours or more.

They are also among the countries poorest paid earning just half of what people earning regular employment. Median earnings for the average self-employed person are £207 a week.

Self-employment is at an all-time high with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) recording 4.6 million self-employed people which is 15% of the nation’s workforce (compared to only 9% in 1975).

The government’s take on this is that it shows we are a nation of entrepreneurs. The more cynical observer might point to people going into self-employment because they can’t get a regular job.

Over a million people who were self-employed in 2004 were working for someone else by 2009 suggesting that many people would prefer a steady job with a steady income – if they could get one. The self-employed tend to be older on average, about 47 years of age, than employees and it’s harder to get jobs the older you are.

The numbers are also distorted by the number of over-65s, half a million, who have  eschewed retirement to become self-employed (a sad reflection on the level of our pensions in this country compared to the rest of Europe).

The TUC has picked up on this noting that almost half of the UK’s self-employed are over 50 and not quite the bright young entrepreneurs the government would like us to believe.

What do the self-employed actually do? Top jobs are builders, taxi drivers, and carpenters with a fast-growing group of managers. The latter group presumably reflecting company downsizing or stressed managers wanting to became consultants?

As I’ve posted before working for yourself is not easy and working from home especially has its own problems.

Flexible working not popular with everybody

geek_icon_1600_wht_9297Flexible working seems to be on the increase, desired by many workers, and even welcomed by many employers.

However it seems that many Generation Y (those born between 1980s and early 1990s) employees think people who work flexibly are not as committed to their jobs as those who work from the office every day.

At least according to a survey by a company of employment solicitors.

They found that while Generation Y employees were quick to complain about discrimination they were also more likely to display hostile attitudes towards equality policies.

The report said it reinforced the reputation of these younger workers as being “awkward” and “difficult to manage“.

It does seem a paradox that these Generation Y employees, who love their technology (ideal for flexible working) and work-life balance are so disapproving.

 

How much would you need to change jobs?

newspaper_check_jobs_1600_wht_12083Not much it would appear if you are British.

The average Brit’s loyalty can be bought for around £2,000 (based on average wage of £26,500 – not a CEO’s over-inflated package).

A rise of 5.3% is all that’s needed to switch loyalty to another employer here in the UK.

In faster-growing economies it’s a different matter. Workers in Indonesia and Brazil want 20%, 17% in South Africa and 12% in China.

In Europe Spanish workers, despite the recession, expect around 6% and the French almost 9%.

We’re not the ones making the lowest demands however.  Italians, Germans and the Dutch have lower expectations than us.

Of course it’s not ALL about money. In the UK work-life balance came out as the most important consideration followed by location, stability and respect (compensation came 5th). I don’t know the results from every country but I’d guess that Sweden was high on the list for work-life balance too.

Compensation was rated as the most important factor by people in Canada, China, France, Germany, and the USA.

All this according to survey of 18,000 employees by a global advisory company CBE.

 

Working from home more popular

puzzle_piece_house_outline_1600_wht_4232Fed up of that stressful commute to work or having a bad day at the office?

Avoid all that by working from home.

It’s the new status symbol – according to the Office of National Statistics.

1 in 7 of us now work from home ie 4.2 million people of which 1.5 million actually work there with the others using home as a base while working in different places.

Three-quarters of home-based workers are  classed as higher skilled compared to one half of office-based workers.

So working from one seems to be restricted to high-flyers;  1/7 are managers or senior officials, 1/3 are professionals, and 1/4 are from high-skilled trades.

Median earnings for home-workers are £13.23  an hour compared to £10.50 for other workers. A third work for other people or companies with two-thirds are self-employed and the older the worker the more likely are they to work from home.

The age difference might be due to seniority or the fact that older workers made redundant find it more difficult to get jobs and often end up working for themselves.

There are regional differences with home-based working more popular in the south-west and far less common in the north.

Better technology has made working from home more cost-effective although many bosses still don’t trust staff who work from home even though there is evidence that they put in more hours and can be more productive.

Deloitte has introduced an “agile working programme” and is inviting its 12,000 UK employees to apply to work from home or in other flexible ways.

Deloitte think it will attract and retain female staff but also improve working lives generally.

Not everyone agrees. Marissa Mayer banned Yahoo! staff from working from home when she became Chief Executive.

She said “some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussion, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo! and that starts with being physically together“.

Easy for her to say  and not doing women any favours when she built a crèche for her baby next to her office.

Work Life Balance………women more satisfied

Originally posted on Kindadukish's Blog:

Sixty per cent of women are happy with their work-life balance: Men are more likely to feel the strain of juggling job and family

Part-time: Women tend to be happier with their work/life balance than their male counterparts

It is the modern juggling act – but managing motherhood alongside a career might not be as difficult as it sounds.Most women, it seems, are perfectly happy with the way their professional and personal lives are balanced. Far from desperately battling their way each day between office and kitchen, more than six out of ten believe their work-life balance is just right.

Men, however, are less content with the way the conflicting demands of their home life and jobs play out. But more than half still believe that the balance is broadly good.

The findings were released by the Office for National Statistics in its latest assessment of national well-being. They come as both the Government and Labour strive to impress women voters with their attempts to help them…

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Work, Rest and Play

stick_figure_running_with_luggage_500_wht_7358No-one talks about Work-Life balance any more; Work-Life Merge seems to be accepted as the way it is, particularly in the USA. With the growth of smartphones and tablets workers are increasingly expected to keep in touch with work.

A recent survey by LondonOffice.com found that the majority (70%) of British business professionals check their work e-mails at least once a day when on holiday. 1 in 5 of them said they answered the e-mails and 60% of these carried on with the interchange if they thought it was important.

On the positive side a quarter of those surveyed said they didn’t check their e-mails when on holiday and 9% conveniently “forgot” to take their digital device with them.

For most people it takes some time to switch off from work and adjust to a different holiday tempo, and you may miss the structure work gives you.

Holiday can be stressful as well as enjoyable. There may be a large financial investment and high expectations. For freelance or contract workers there is a double cost as they are not earning during the holiday. People worry about travel problems, losing baggage, having accidents/illness.

Much as you may love your partner/family spending 24/7 with them can also be a strain. If your relationship is having problems you may find going to work is an escape for you and/or provides you with social support.

Organisations generally have flatter structures with fewer managers supervising more staff. Managers or team leader may not have deputies to look after things whilst they are away and may worry about what they will be going back to.

Managers may not have sufficient skills to delegate or manage their time effectively. They may not have the skills to develop/train staff to deal with minor problems. They may lack confidence themselves or feel they have to micro-manage staff. For some managers stress is caused by not knowing what’s going on back at work.

Workaholics are often rewarded by organisations and this leads to “presenteeism” where staff feel they have to work long hours for appearances’ sake. Working more than 50 hours a week is not productive (more mistakes, accidents, poorer quality work) and also has health risks. Those managers who say they get bored on holiday should bear this in mind. Laptops or smartphones on the beach don’t usually go down well with the family.

E-mail overload is an increasing source of stress. Companies can help by having policies about e-mail distribution but sometimes managers feel they have to check their e-mails if only to delete the spam or reduce the volume when they get back.

pen_display_accomplished_1600_wht_7579So what can you do?

  • Pre-planning is crucial which includes briefing your team on what to expect when you’re away and delegating responsibility to them.
  • Leave an out-of-office message asking people to contact you on your return if possible or contact a colleague if it’s urgent
  • Have day off before you travel on holiday to help you prepare for the break.
  • If you really have to use your digital device restrict your usage to an hour each day and let your staff know when that time will be.
  • Having a buffer zone at each end of a holiday can help. Having a day of to get things sorted out at home before you go back to work or just going in for an afternoon to start with to clear any backlog enables you to get the best out of your holiday.
And if you still think you are indispensable remember De Gaulle’s dictum of how the graveyards are full of indispensable men.

Life after Peak Employment

Originally posted on Flip Chart Fairy Tales:

When I were a lad, people were saying that the challenge of future decades would be what to do with all our leisure time. Working weeks in the advanced economies had fallen and continued to fall. New technology, automation and robots, it was said, would mean that we could improve productivity yet still work less. Books like “The Leisure Shock” were fashionable. The emerging micro-technologies would, we were told, liberate us all from a life of drudgery.

They were still banging on about it when I got to university. I remember one of my lecturers talking about the 32-cubed working life – we would all work 32 hours a week for 32 weeks of the year for 32 years of our lives. That, he assured us, would be enough to keep us comfortably off. The challenge would be working out what to do with the rest of the time. It…

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