Work Life Balance in Hong Kong Survey Results
08 Apr 2008
This report, based on a survey of 1,027 employees in Hong Kong, reveals the general improvement in work-life balance of Hong Kong employees compared with our same study done in 2004. The research carried out jointly by the University of Hong Kong and CSR Asia found significant improvements in the number of hours worked, flexible working arrangements and satisfaction with work.
Results of a questionnaire-based survey distributed in cooperation with Hong Kong employers showed the following:
- Compared with 2004, employees now work 5 hours a week less
- In 2008, there has been a significant reduction in people working overtime and working late into the evening on a regular basis
- Many more companies are now allowing some sort of flexible working compared with 2004
- There are significant improvements in workers' happiness with their jobs although only very small improvements in work-life balance
- There is a dramatic reduction in people considering leaving their jobs in the next 12 months.
Richard Welford, lead researcher and author of the report said: "One major factor in the improvements in work life balance seems to be the move to a five-day working week. The government and many private sector employers have demonstrated real commitment and leadership in improving working practices in Hong Kong.
"There is no doubt that without the stance taken by government we would still be seeing the sort of dissatisfaction with work that we detected in 2004. Not only are people working fewer hours but regular overtime working seems to have fallen and there has been a huge increase in job satisfaction".
In 2008 the key aspects of the study reveal that:
Employees in Hong Kong work long hours:
- The average working week is 49.6 hours (in 2004 it was 55.2)
- 62.4% of people regularly work unpaid overtime.
- 51.7% of people work late into the evenings
People work late:
- 62.6% to get their job done and be more productive.
- 37.4% out of obligation and often work less hard because they are expected to stay late.
Employees' health is being affected:
- 82.5% of people said they suffered stress and 75.4% from lack of exercise
- 46.4% report poor diet and 45.6% exhaustion resulting from their jobs.
Employees are taking sick leave:
- 27% of people take sick leave in order to recover from working long hours.
Employees think the average annual leave is insufficient:
- The average number is 19 days but people think that 23 days would be fairer
Work-life balance is still an issue:
- Most people still think they have too much work to do, which detracts from their work-life balance
- Most people are still unhappy about the amount of time they spend with their family and friends
Happiness and job satisfaction has improved
- More people are happy with their jobs than are unhappy with them
- And over 50% of companies now offer flexible working arrangements to help improve work life balance
Potential staff turnover rate remains high
- 12.9% of people said that they would consider leaving their jobs in the next 12 months.
In 2008 demographic data was included in the survey for the first time. Key findings include:
- On average women work fewer hours than men and are less likely to work overtime on a regular basis
- Younger men (under 30) work the longest hours of any demographic group
- Men tend to take more sick time than women because of their long work hours, but are no more likely to leave their jobs in the next 12 months.
- There is no great difference between men and women in terms of their happiness with their jobs
- However, women are more satisfied with their work-life balance and time spent with family and friends than men
- Longer hours are worked by younger people. They are also most likely to work regular overtime
- The age group over 50 works more overtime than the group from 40 to 49
- Young people are less likely to have flexible working arrangements than older people and are more likely to take sick leave as a result of working long hours
- Younger people are more likely to leave their jobs in the next 12 months
- Workers in the range 40 to 49 are most satisfied with their jobs, are happier with their work-life balance and time spent with family and friends
"There is a strong correlation between working hours and job satisfaction" says Welford. "Moreover that satisfaction translates into fewer people planning to leave their job in the next 12 months. However, we must realize that there are still challenges. Many people still see their work life balance as poor despite the improvements with young men particularly susceptible to poor health because of working long hours."
Richard Welford may be contacted for interview through the CSR Asia office on 3579 8079. Please contact Jimmy Huen.
A press briefing will be held 9 April 2008, 10:00am at the CSR Asia, Hong Kong office: 12A, Wing Cheong Commercial Building, 19-25 Jervois Street, Hong Kong. Language: English
The full results will be presented at CSR Asia's monthly briefing at 6pm, 9 April. Details from Jimmy Huen, 3579 8079.