What would you do with more time? Workers worldwide provide their work-life wishlist

Ahead of daylight savings this month, The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated has released part two of a global survey examining how employees across eight nations view their relationship with work and life, asking the simple question, “What would you do with more time?”

These results from The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace came from a survey of nearly 3,000 workers across the U.K., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico and the U.S. Part one, “The Case for a 4-day Workweek?,” uncovered that 75 percent of workers say it should take less than seven hours each day to do their job – yet specific time-wasters attribute to two in five employees working more than 40 hours a week, with 71 percent saying work interferes with their personal lives. Part two asks employees: If you could get these lost hours back in your day, what would you do with more time?

News facts

People wish they could spend more time with family, travelling, and taking better care of their mental and physical health in their personal lives.With more time, the top five things people worldwide wish they could do more of are spend time with family (44 percent); travel (43 percent); exercise (33 percent); spend time with friends (30 percent); and pursue their hobbies (29 percent).

Rest and relaxation were also big themes, as 27 percent of people worldwide said they would want to get more sleep and nearly one-quarter (22 percent) would focus on mental health. More sleep is a universal desire regardless of age – from Gen Z (27 percent) to Baby Boomers (26 percent).

While all nations rate spending time with family and travel as their top two desires, the remaining top five “more time” wish lists vary by country. For instance, employees in France, Germany, the U.S., and the U.K. listed “sleep more” as a top five-priority; U.K. and India workers wish they had time to learn a new skill or hobby; people in Mexico and India would spend more time watching TV, movies, or listening to music; and Mexico employees were the only ones to have “read more” in their top five.

On the bright side, 62 percent of all workers agree that their job offers enough flexibility to have a healthy work-life balance, while only 14 percent either disagree or strongly disagree.

What would you do with more time at work? Personal development leads the way.Regardless of age, role, level, or country, all employees wish they could spend more time developing new skills, as it was the top-rated answer for both individual contributors (44 percent) and people managers (40 percent) alike – with exactly half of Gen Z respondents and 47 percent of Millennials craving more time to develop skills. A whopping 66 percent of employees in India wish they had time to develop new skills, with the U.K. (49 percent), Mexico (48 percent), and Australia (47 percent) following suit as the nations where more professional development is desired the most.

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People managers specifically would spend more time with people, as four of their top six answers include developing or training employees (no. 2); building relationships with their team (no. 4); coaching or mentoring others (no. 6 – tie); and helping customers (no. 6 – tie).

While helping customers was the second highest-rated wish for individual contributors (31 percent) – and a greater desire the older the worker – the remaining top-five desires fall squarely in the personal maintenance camp: take a meal break (no. 3); take a mental break / meditate (no. 4); and catch up on work (no. 5).
Both managers and employees – especially in Australia – wish they could spend more time on long-term or significant projects (27 percent and 23 percent, respectively), and 23 percent of employees wish they had more time to innovate, brainstorm new ideas, or find a better way of doing things. However, U.K. employees were the least likely to do this, with only 19 percent stating this.

Workers in Mexico (37 percent), Canada (27 percent), and Germany (26 percent) would use extra time to exercise during the workday. On the opposite spectrum, only 13 percent of U.K. employees would use extra time to exercise, but 32 percent wish there was more time to eat.

Workers in Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. apparently feel the busiest, as they are most likely to spend additional time in the day simply catching up on work. While organisations in France need to watch out, as one in four French workers would spend extra time looking for a new job compared to the worldwide average of 16 percent.

Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos commented: “While the vast majority of workers say work interferes with their personal lives, it’s clear that people want to do meaningful work and want to do well by their employers. It’s the employer’s responsibility not only to provide workers with the tools, processes, and resources to optimise their time at work, but also to empower employees to best manage work-life harmony with clear and specific time-off policies, creative and self-service scheduling solutions, benefits to help relax and refuel, and, above all, open communication between the company, employees, and their people managers to ensure time while working is time well spent.”

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Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and research director, Future Workplace said: “Workers worldwide clearly see the benefit to stay relevant in their jobs by investing time in training, yet also desire more time with their family, to travel, and get fit. Instead of trying to have a balanced lifestyle, which is especially difficult in today’s highly connected, technology-driven world, workers should seek integration, ensuring they allocate time to their biggest professional and personal priorities each day. There’s more of a need today to work smarter and be more efficient to free up time to invest in things that matter most, inside and outside of work.”

Footnote 1: The term “non-managing employees” or “individual contributors,” unless otherwise noted, refers to full- or part-time employees without any direct reports.

Footnote 2: Generations are defined as follows: Gen Z, born between 1994-2009; Millennials, born between 1982-1993; Gen X born between 1965-1981; and Baby Boomers, born between 1945-1964.

Survey Methodology

Research conducted by Future Workplace on behalf of Kronos Incorporated based on a survey fielded by market research agency VIGA between July 31– Aug. 9, 2018. For this survey, 2,772 employees were asked general questions about their workplace, managers, time, and work burnout. The study targeted full- and part-time employees living in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S. VIGA respondents are recruited through a number of different mechanisms, via different sources, to join the panels and participate in market research surveys. All panelists have passed a double opt-in process and complete, on average, 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys. Respondents are invited to take part via email and are provided with a small monetary incentive for doing so. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 1.9 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample. 




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