The State of Work-Life Balance in Hong Kong 2010 Survey (2010 Survey) continues to show that work-life balance poses significant challenges to employees in Hong Kong and provides a compelling business case for employers to address the issue of work-life balance in their organisations.

Community Business has conducted this survey on an annual basis since 2006. In this report we identify key trends over the past five years, take a look at the role of flexible work arrangements as a way to improve the work-life balance of employees in Hong Kong, as well as examine the perspectives of Generation Y, commonly referred to in Hong Kong as the Post 80s generation.

Employees work long hours and their work-life balance is still far from ideal The results of this 2010 Survey reveal that employees work long hours – on average they work 48.7 hours per week. This is 22% higher than the 40 hours recommended by the International Labour Organisation. Despite the fact that employees are spending slightly more time on personal activities (11.4 hours per week in 2010 as compared to 11.2 hours in 2009), the actual work-life ratio is still far from what employees consider ideal (actual work-life ratio: 83:17; preferred work-life ratio: 61:39).

In addition, employees give a score of only 5.7 out of 10 for the extent to which they think their ideal work-life balance has been achieved. Business case: negative impact of poor work-life balance and risk of losing talent Over three-quarters of employees (77.7%) report that they have encountered problems related to health, family and productivity due to poor work-life balance. The results also reveal alarmingly that more employees are considering alternative employment – almost four out of ten employees (39.0% in 2010 as compared to 30.1% in 2009) cite that they would consider leaving their current job for better work-life balance.

This finding highlights clearly that employers who fail to take the issue of work-life balance seriously risk losing significant numbers of their workforce. Employees’ work-life balance has improved slightly since 2006 – however, employees’ satisfaction with work and life has remained unchanged Based on the working hours of employees and their actual work-life ratio over the past five years (see Figure 1 and 2a on page 5), employees’ work-life balance has gradually improved over the years. Encouragingly too, more employees are offered a 5-day work week in 2010 (45.7%) compared to 2007 (35.0%).

However, despite this slight improvement, employees continue to give a relatively low score (5.7 out of 10) for the extent to which they think their ideal work-life balance has been achieved, reflecting that their overall level of satisfaction with their work-life balance remains unchanged. This suggests that employees expectations regarding work-life balance are rising. This is further supported by the trend that since 2008, employees’ desire for more personal time has increased (preferred work-life ratio: 62.3:37.7 in 2008; 61.6:38.4 in 2009; 61.0:39.0 in 2010).

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