Of workers who feel “overworked”, one in four experience anxiety and 3.3 million “overworked” Australians experience loss of sleep, according to new research from The Australia Institute and depression Not for Profit beyondblue.
Early findings of the research paper Hard to get a break?, to be released in the lead-up to Go Home on Time Day on November 20, focus on the experiences of the “overworked” (those who would like to work fewer hours) and the “underworked” (for example, those struggling to enter the workforce or those who want to work more hours) and was based on an online survey conducted in July.
The findings revealed 50 per cent of Australians who are overworked would like to spend more time with their family.
They also showed almost 25 per cent of employees who work unpredictable hours say this arrangement impacts on their financial security, 1.1 million Australians found involuntary time out of the workforce demoralising and one in five experience anxiety as a consequence of their time out of the workforce.
beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said something was very wrong in Australia’s workplaces because people were working longer and longer hours, but productivity is not increasing to reflect this.
“If you’re ‘under the pump’ consistently, it can lead to sustained job stress which is linked to depression and anxiety,” Carnell said.
“Depression costs Australian businesses $12.3 billion every year through absenteeism, reduced productivity and staff turnover. So business owners need to wake up to the fact that poor work/life balance takes its toll on both their employees and their businesses.”
Dr Richard Denniss, Executive Director of The Australia Institute, said Go Home on Time Day was a light-hearted way to start a serious conversation.
“When so many people say work – either too much or not enough – is making them anxious then it’s clearly a conversation that needs to be had,” he said.
“Managers see first-hand how productivity is affected when workers feel stressed or anxious. That’s why we’re encouraging businesses to participate.”
“When people are expected to work increasingly longer hours, their stress levels rise because often they don’t know what time they can expect to leave work and have little job control,” Kate Carnell said.
“They fear that not working back may put their jobs at risk, but they also face pressure from home when they can’t meet their families’ expectations. In short, their work/life balance suffers and their stress levels skyrocket.”
To register to Go Home on Time Day, visit www.gohomeontimeday.org.au.
This article first appeared on Pro Bono on 30 September, 2013.