Work and home life
Having established that workers in Britain tend to be less content with their work-life balance than workers in neighbouring continental countries such as Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, our next task is to look more closely at what people in Britain say about the relationship between their personal and working lives. On this theme, the European Social Survey asks people in work to say:
how often do you ...
... keep worrying about work problems when you are not working
... feel too tired after work to enjoy things you would like to do at home
In 2004 nearly three out of four employed people (73 per cent) said that they had ever worried about work problems when at home,5 but in the 2010 survey this has risen to 80 per cent. An even higher proportion - 89 per cent - say there have been times when they felt too tired after work to enjoy things at home, although this is close to the proportion in 2004.
By cross-comparing data we can see that a relationship exists between the way people reply to these two questions and their responses to more general questions about their happiness and life satisfaction. Figure 6.3 shows how those who "never" feel too tired after work have an average happiness score of 8.0 out of 10.0, compared with 6.6 among people who "always" feel this way.
However, our analysis finds no association between levels of happiness and whether people work full- or part-time. This matches the findings of another recent study (Pereira and Coelho, 2012), which found that the absolute number of working hours is not the sole determinant of a worker's overall happiness. Rather, happiness seems to be related to the extent to which workers (both full- and part-time) perceive there to be conflicts between work and other aspects of their lives. Such conflicts among respondents are strongly and consistently associated with lower levels of reported happiness.
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- British Social Attitudes and European Social Survey analysis excludes Northern Ireland, whereas OECD data are based on the whole UK. Various terms are used in this chapter to refer to people in paid work (for example, "workers", "people in paid work", and "employed people"). They all denote everyone who is either an employee or is self-employed, who usually works 10 hours or more a week, and who considers work to be their main activity.
- Part-time work was defined as working less than 35 hours per week.
- Bases for Table 6.5 are as follows:
- The fourth Work-Life Balance Employee Survey was conducted by NatCen Social Research for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
- This includes people who say they "always", "often", "sometimes" or "hardly ever" do this, but excludes those who say they "never" do.
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