Work-Life Balance Off Kilter, Research Finds
That "work-life" balance thing we keep hearing so much about?
More than 39 percent of employees worldwide say they haven't got it, according to newly released research from Hay Group, a global management consulting firm.
Not surprisingly, this dissatisfaction leads to high employee turnover.
"Organizations across the globe continue to ask their employees to 'do more with less,' leading to increasing dissatisfaction with work-life balance," said Mark Royal, senior principal at Hay Group Insight, and co-author of " The Enemy of Engagement," a book about workplace frustration and productivity.
The research, which is updated annually, was culled from responses from more than 5 million employees in more than 400 companies across 65 countries.
Some of the findings are surprising. For example, Central America ranks highest in work-life balance, with 70 percent of employees saying their companies support them in achieving a reasonable balance between work and personal life. North America is second (65 percent), followed by eastern Asia (63 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (63 percent), and Southern Asia (62 percent).
Interestingly, only 44 percent of employees in Western Europe - the stereotypical epicenter of harmonious existences - said their companies support them in achieving a reasonable work-life balance, an 11 percentage point drop from 2011. That's compared to 56 percent of employees in Eastern Europe. The United Kingdom fell in the middle, while Africa and the Middle East report the bleakest perceptions.
And though many companies believe that telecommuting or allowing employees to work flexible hours are sufficient, they're not.
"Providing people with flexibility over where and when they work can be a part of dealing with work life balance concerns, but our message is that while they might be of help, they're not addressing the fundamental concerns," he said. "For too many of today's workers there is simply too much work and not enough time."
The numbers back up his assertions: More than one in four (27 percent) of dissatisfied employees plans to leave their companies within the next two years, he said.
To retain them, Royal believes that companies must approach the work-life balance issue as a "challenge to enhancing productivity." "Organizations need to think about broader solutions," he told ABC News. "The solution has to extend to helping people work smarter as well as harder. If organizations can help employees be more efficient while they are at work, they reduce the likelihood that work demands will spill out over the work day and crowd out time to attend to personal responsibilities."