Talent - Four out of five Australians feel pressure to work after hours

By AdNews | 4 May 2023
Source: Jeshoots via Unsplash

Four in five (82%) Australians feel pressure to work outside their normal hours, fuelling a renewed call for the right to disconnect, according to a poll by recruiters Hays.

Nearly half (46%) of almost 25,000 professionals surveyed “frequently” feel pressure to work outside standard hours. Another 36% “occasionally” feel pressure.

Just 16% never feel pressure to connect to work after hours. The final 1% voted “Other” and had a range of perspectives, from doing whatever it took to complete the work to taking calls at night in exchange for time off during the day.

Matthew Dickason, CEO Asia Pacific at Hays, said the lines between work and personal time have blurred, forcing most professionals to feel some level of pressure to connect outside normal working hours

“To protect employee health and wellbeing, improve productivity and reduce the risk of burnout, employers need to reprioritise work-life balance. In today’s 24/7, hybrid and remote world, they must develop strategies to help their employees disconnect," Dickason said.

“The ‘right to disconnect’ refers to the ability of employees to switch off from work-related tasks and devices outside their normal working hours. It’s gaining renewed attention as a strategy to help minimise the risk of work following employees home or into their evening.”

In March 2023, the Greens introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Right to Disconnect) Bill 2023 into Parliament, which seeks to legislate the right to disconnect after hours. The right to disconnect has already been recognised by several organisations, including Victoria Police and Queensland public school teachers.

Hays says its important for employers to establish clear policies and guidelines around after-hours work, including limiting after-hours emails and phone calls.

“Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable setting boundaries and prioritising personal time. Lead by example and model healthy work boundaries," Dickason said.

“Encourage employees to prioritise their personal time and unplug from work when they are off the clock. This includes taking their full annual leave entitlements and disconnecting from work entirely during vacations and public holidays.

“If needed, provide training to educate employees on the importance of work-life balance and how to manage their workload effectively."

For employees that feel pressure to regularly connect outside of normal working hours, Hays suggests staff should set clear boundaries with their colleagues and manager to communicate know when you’re available and when you’re not.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload, talk to a trusted colleague or your manager. Ask for support or help to prioritise tasks," Dickason said.

“Turn off work-related notifications at night and take time to rest, recharge, pursue interests and spend time with family and friends. Use your full annual leave to completely unplug from work so you can relax and return refreshed.

“Everyone’s ideal work-life balance is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

"Experiment with different strategies and routines until you find a balance that allows you to disconnect at the end of the day and prioritise your personal life.”

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