Working time and its effects on work life balance and well-being

“I am naturally very sorry to see you go, but understand… your wish to be able to spend more time with your family”, (Mrs Thatcher responding to Norman Fowler’s resignation letter in 1990).

Working time is a controversial issue, especially here in the UK where we’re alleged to have a ‘long hours culture’. Certainly, other countries in Europe, most notably our nearest neighbour, France, has a very different attitude to working hours (“vive la difference” they might say – we couldn’t possibly comment, being objective researchers!)

Recently, the UK Government has come under progressively more pressure from the Trade Unions and from other parts of Europe to adhere more strictly to the ‘Working Time Directive’ and to end ‘opt-outs’, where employers negotiate agreements with their employees in order to get round the Directive.

In our survey, we ask employees to tell us how long they typically work in a working week, and we can therefore (through cunning statistical analysis!) establish how reported working hours impacts on overall quality of working life and the factors that interact to explain and predict it, such as work life balance and well-being.

Some very interesting research questions relate to working time, such as:

  • How does working longer hours' influence quality of working life?
  • What are the outcomes in terms of well-being from working longer hours?
  • Do other factors such as control and support buffer the effects of longer working hours?
  • Are there gender differences in working time? Are there gender differences in the effects or working long hours?
  • How does working time influence perceptions of work life balance in organisations?
  • Do organisations that score high/low have different working time ‘cultures’?

The data we've gathered recently sheds some light on these important questions.  We’ll be writing up this research soon, but in the meantime, if you're interested in finding out more please get in touch.