Hard at work

Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.
Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.

DO you think that you work too hard?

It seems that many Australians would give a resounding answer to this question: “Yes”.

The Centre for Work Life at the University of South Australia produces a fascinating annual study, The Australian Work and Life Index. In short, the latest index documents once again indicate that most of us are working more hours a week than we would like.

The index sets out to measure “how often work interferes with the responsibilities or activities outside work, how often it restricts time with family or friends …, overall satisfaction with the work-life balance, and how often people feel rushed and pressured for time”.

Key findings of the 2010 index and its accompanying research include:

  • Sixty per cent of the female workforce and almost 50% of he male workforce consistently feel pressured for time. Women who work full-time and working mothers in particular show signs of increased work-related stress.
  • Managerial and professional workers are particularly working long hours and feeling the stress – a not surprising finding. Professional women especially standout here as being under work pressure.
  • There is not evidence that being self-employed provides a better work-life balance.
  • Most workers, including older workers, are not eager to work more hours. Indeed, older workers for instance are generally working longer hours than they would like.

The issue of trying to obtain the right work-life balance is a considerable concern for society and for our personal finances – particularly given the rapid ageing of the population, inadequate retirement savings, and the need to save for longer and longer life expectancies.

As well, of course, there is a growing willingness to work to older ages than in the past.

The task of trying to balance life and work is, of course, a central factor for many people when taking a transition-to-retirement pension.

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Robin Bowerman, Vanguard Investments Australia's Head of Retail, has more than two decades of experience in the finance industry as a writer, commentator and editor.

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