ACCOUNTANTS ARE LEAST HAPPY IN UK WITH WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Accountants are the least happy profession in the UK when it comes to their work-life balance, according to research carried out by recruiter Randstad Financial & Professional.

A survey of 2,000 employees revealed that those working in utilities (94%) and insurance (90%) were most happy with their work-life balance, despite those sectors having some of the longest average working weeks in the UK.  Those least happy with their work-life balance were accountants (42%) and financial services (47%) – yet accountants have a shorter average working week than the UK average.

Industry

I am Happy With My Work-Life Balance

Median full-time gross weekly earnings

Average Hours Work / Week (Full Time)

Utilities

94%

£521.50

38h 52m

Insurance

90%

£639.50

39h 25m

Property

88%

£479.40

36h 10m

Leisure

80%

£402.50

31h 12m

Media

68%

£402.50

32h 96m

Social Work

68%

£491.70

33h 86m

Automotive

67%

£515.90

31h 56m

Law

67%

£616.30

33h 54m

IT & Telecoms

64%

£677.40

37h 53m

Aviation

62%

£515.90

35h 50m

Manufacturing

60%

£515.90

35h 50m

NATIONAL AVERAGE

59%

£505.90

37h 40m

Education

56%

£560.30

31h 19m

Retail

55%

£397.30

30h 34m

Rail

52%

£536.80

39h 50m

Engineering

50%

£536.80

36h 41m

Nursing

49%

£491.70

32h 80m

Wholesalers

48%

£397.30

39h 71m

Financial Services

47%

£639.50

37h 28m

Accountancy

42%

£639.50

33h 83m

The survey also compared the findings to the amount people in each sector were paid.  The results suggest the amount people earn does not affect how happy they are with their work-life balance.  For instance, those working in media and leisure are among the lowest paid in the UK, with average gross weekly earnings of £402.50 – yet these are some of the happiest sectors in the UK in terms of their work-life balance.  By contrast, those working in financial services and accountancy earn far more than the national average, but are the least happy.

Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial & Professional said, “We know work-life balance isn’t just about pay – but we know there’s more to it than just hours as well. Social workers aren’t motivated by high salaries, while employees in construction, insurance and IT all work longer hours than the national average.  It appears employees in these sectors find their work particularly rewarding.  It may also have a lot to do with the blending of work and personal lives.  These people are passionate about their jobs and have a greater sense of integration between their professional and personal lives.”

SECTORS HIT HARDEST BY THE FINANCIAL CRISIS AND AUSTERITY MEASURES

Sectors hit hardest by government austerity measures and the effects of the global financial crisis are less happy with their work-life balance – as are those working in white-hot industries.  Professionals in financial services and accountancy are feeling overstretched, as are education and nursing professionals, along with those working in the engineering and rail sectors.

Tara Ricks said, “Accountants might be feeling overstretched as a result of teams being stripped back during the financial recession. When the economic climate improves, companies may be in a position to replace lost hires, but in the meantime managers should consider employing interim staff to support their long-term employees. Feeling overloaded at work is one of the key reasons that staff may consider changing roles, so in order to retain key staff, employers need to support their workforce where possible. If accountants are really unhappy with their work-life balance, they can always deploy their skills in a different context, such as working in the third sector.”

LONGER HOURS – HIDDEN BENEFITS

The destabilising of an employee’s work-life balance as a result of the recession may have hidden benefits.  People who embarked on their careers after August 2007 have developed professionally as part of very lean teams compared to those who started in the previous six.  This has pushed some employees into working longer hours but as teams have attempted to manage workloads on a reduced workforce, high-flying junior employees have taken on the work of more senior colleagues.  They have upskilled rapidly, creating a new generation of hyper-talented, passionate professionals.  A separate market intelligence report carried out by Randstad found that 70% of financial services professionals had stepped up to much more demanding roles through sheer necessity.  The 'all-hands-on-deck' mentality created during the recession meant that 73% considered themselves to be working at a higher level than their job title suggested, and were looking for the recognition and reward that they believed their achievement deserved.

Tara Ricks said, “’Accelerated learning’ in small teams with stretched staff can speed up development allowing passionate high flyers to shine and improve their promotion prospects.  A lot of the best candidates we see – the top 15% – have seen their careers progress and gather speed, having worked in smaller, thinner, tighter teams.  A new cohort is emerging in Britain’s workforce which, thanks to the financial crisis, has excellent experience – albeit, perhaps, at the expense of their work-life balance.”

www.randstad.co.uk/about-us/press-releases/randstad-news/work-life-balance-not-affected-by-hours-or-pay/