In the 18th century, a man called Robert Owen fought against unjust long hours of factory work and created one of the most famous slogans: “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.” The slogan stands strong even today, but is it time for a change?
We collected these crucial work-life balance stats that show the need for a new slogan. From low productivity and poor health to a higher risk of depression and anxiety, modern workers face the same problems that once plagued 18th-century workers. So how can we organize our day to ensure that our work-life balance is healthy and sustainable in the long run?
Essential Work-Life Balance Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- 66% of all full-time employees in the US believe they have an unhealthy work-life balance.
- 69% of employees would love to have a more flexible work schedule, while 55% would prefer to work remotely.
- 70% of freelancers are experiencing reduced stress levels, leading to both better mental health and a proper work-life balance.
- The latest work-life balance data shows that employees spend only 43% of their time on their primary job duties since they are required to be present at time-consuming meetings the rest of the time.
- Long hours lead to 27% of employees feeling depressed, 34% feeling anxious, and 58% feeling irritable.
- An estimated $125 billion to $190 billion are spent annually on treating the psychological and physical effects of burnout in the US alone.
- 43% of Canadian employees firmly believe that COVID-19 will put an end to the 9–5 workday.
Must-Know Work-Life Balance Stats
Aside from taking away precious time for rest and one’s private life, prolonged working hours are also proven to take a toll on one’s physical and mental health. If you are reading this, the chances are that you are already feeling the consequences of that type of lifestyle. That said, you are not the only one. These are the most critical facts about work-life balance that you need to know today.
1. Two-thirds of full-time employees in the US have no work-life balance.
(Family Living Today)
66% of all full-time employees in the US do not believe they have a healthy work-life balance. Moreover, 33% of adult employees in the US regularly work during weekends and holidays. To make matters worse, according to studies, the following factors have the most negative impact on the work-life balance ratio:
- 60% of employees are working under the leadership of bad or overbearing bosses.
- 39% of employees are working well beyond the standard 9–5 business hours.
- 39% of employees are facing inflexible work hours and time-off schedules.
- 31% of employees are working alongside incompetent coworkers.
- 30% of employees are spending a lot of time commuting.
2. 92% of employees are regularly working during evenings and on weekends.
A survey shows that 92% of employees regularly work in the evening and during weekends. One of the reasons is that 72% of employees keep their communication apps open during the whole day. This percentage is often mentioned in workaholism statistics, explaining how easily we blur the lines between the professional and the personal.
Another reason is that only 5% of employees finish their daily tasks every day. Others often continue to work at night and on weekends to achieve the usually unachievable goals set by their bosses.
3. The Netherlands has the best work-life balance globally.
According to the work-life balance statistics by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Netherlands is as close as it can get to having an optimal work-life balance. With a score of 9.5 out of 10, it proves it’s more about the quality than the quantity of the work. With good personal health, low stress levels, and high safety levels, almost all employees rank their work-life balance with a high score.
The work-life balance scales also show that in the Netherlands, less than 0.4% of employees work longer than 50 hours a week, while the rate is much higher for American employees — 11.4%. This is one of the reasons why the US is not in the top 10 countries with the best work-life balance. Furthermore, it is the only OECD country without a national paid parental leave policy.
4. 69% of employees would love to have a more flexible work schedule.
(Family Living Today)
With a percentage of life spent at work reaching more than one-third of a lifetime, people are looking for ways to spend more time on their personal lives. It seems that 69% of employees would love to have a more flexible work schedule. Moreover, 55% of them prefer to have the option to work outside the office.
5. 70% of freelancers are experiencing reduced stress levels.
The latest work-life balance facts show us that many factors can contribute to having a good balance, and it seems that the secret to discovering all of them is hiding within freelance working. According to a study, 76% of participants say freelancing gives them more time to spend on hobbies and people around them.
70% of full-time freelance workers are experiencing reduced stress thanks to this type of work. Moreover, 64% of them feel their general health has improved after switching to this kind of work. No wonder freelancing is among the most popular trends in work-life balance.
Unbelievable Stats About Work-Life Balance and Productivity
It may seem counterintuitive, but the less we work, the more we achieve. As long as there is continuity in our work, we will be much more productive and healthier in the long run. At least, that’s what the recent studies are suggesting. Various countries are redefining how a company can prosper by experimenting with shorter working hours and longer paid vacations.
Let’s take a closer look at the following five work-life balance stats that will prove to you that quantity seldom means quality when it comes to finishing your daily work tasks.
6. Work-life imbalance leads to 68% poor morale.
(Family Living Today)
A survey reports that work-life imbalance leads to 68% poor morale, 41% high turnover, 41% burnout or fatigue, and 36% poor overall productivity.
Compared with these short-term effects, the long-term consequences are even more terrifying. Employees who work over 55 hours per week are at a higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. They also face a higher risk of anxiety and depression. These work-life balance facts and figures also show that stress and cortisol levels are much higher throughout the day (during on and off hours) for workers expected to be available outside of their working hours.
7. Employees are productive for only 2 hours and 48 minutes of an 8-hour workday.
According to a 2019 study by Rescue Time, during a typical workday, workers’ average productive time amounts to only 2 hours and 48 minutes. Work-life balance statistics also state that 21% of all working hours are spent on entertainment, news, and social media, and 26% of all work tasks are finished outside regular working hours.
8. 62% of employees agree wasteful meetings obstruct workflow.
According to The State of Work 2020 Report, employees spend only 43% of working time on their primary job duties since they must be present at wasteful meetings. The results are based on a qualitative review of thousands of companies and teams around the world. As per the most unusual work-life balance facts, the reasons behind these meetings are inadequate mechanisms for strategic alignment, work planning, and work status communication.
9. Employees are 13% more productive when working from home.
“Working from home is a future-looking technology,” claimed Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Nicholas Bloom during a TEDxStanford talk in 2017. He and his co-researchers made a scientific study to support his claim. The study’s statistics on work-life balance show an improvement of 13% in the performance of all employees working from home compared to those who stay in the office.
Why is this happening? It seems that there are two main reasons — without the need to commute, all employees start and finish within the work hours. They can also concentrate better since there are fewer distractions at their home. Those who commute, especially when covering longer distances, are often late due to traffic.
10. Happiness increases productivity by 20%.
Work-life balance interesting facts show that happy employees are 20% more productive than others. This is even more noticeable in salespeople, for whom happiness helps increase sales by an astonishing 37%, compared to the unhappy employees. Happiness brings many positive emotions, including inspiration and motivation — the two crucial feelings for being a more productive employee.
Crucial Stats About Work-Life Balance and Mental Health
The current trends in work-life balance ideology focus mainly on all employees’ physical and mental health, thanks to one specific age group. The world is slowly changing, and it seems that millennials are the originators of the most significant change.
As one of the loudest advocates for work-life balance, the millennial generation is reshaping the image of corporations. Since they will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, many employers are already changing the rules. That said, we still have a long way to go. The following work-life balance statistics prove precisely that.
11. Long working hours lead to depression, anxiety, and irritability in up to 58% of employees.
(Mental Health Foundation)
Based on the findings of a recent Mental Health Foundation survey, 27% of the employees feel depressed, 34% face anxiety, and 58% feel irritable after working long hours. We have already learned that happiness could significantly boost our productivity, but what happens with our work when we are unhappy?
According to statistics on work-life balance, it seems that one-third of all employees are starting to feel unhappy about the time they have to devote to work. These feelings lead to 40% of them neglecting their personal life due to work. Moreover, nearly two-thirds of workers are already experiencing the negative effects of long hours on their private life.
12. 50% of employees use alcohol, drugs, or lash out to cope with workplace stress.
Work-life balance stats from an MHA Work Health Survey show that more than 50% of employees drink alcohol, use drugs, or snap at others to cope with workplace stress. Furthermore, more than 65% of employees have sleep problems due to workplace stress and difficulties.
13. Up to $190 billion are spent annually on treating the psychological and physical effects of burnout.
(Harvard Business Review)
According to work-life balance statistics in the US, approximately $125 billion to 190 billion dollars are spent annually on treating the psychological and physical effects of burnout. The most common reason for it? You guessed it — work-life imbalance. Moreover, three factors usually lead to employee burnout: weak time management disciplines, excessive collaboration, and overloading the most competent employees with too much work.
14. 45% of employees claim that work flexibility leads to better life quality.
Based on the FlexJobs 2018 Annual Survey findings, 45% of surveyed employees admit that having a flexible job would improve their overall quality of life. Furthermore, 77% of workers state that work flexibility would allow them to eat better and do more exercise, while 86% say they would be less stressed.
Based on the work-life balance stats from the same survey, here is what employers can gain by offering flexibility to their employees:
- Higher employee retention
- Better working relationships
- Reduced expenses
- More educated and experienced workers
15. More than 50% of employees are afraid to take a day off for mental health.
A survey measuring organizational culture within companies shows that 55% of employees are scared to ask for a day off for mental health. This work-life balance data also states 22% of them strongly agree with this claim.
Note that you don’t have to plan a day off specifically for this goal. You can always call in sick or schedule your mental health day for a day you already have off.
Compelling Stats About How Work-Life Balance Changed After COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic took the entire world by storm, and even though it was the most challenging experience we had in a very long time, a few good things came out of it. With more and more people being “stuck” at home for work, we rediscovered something that we forgot a long time ago — the percentage of life spent at work should not be higher than the percentage spent at home with our families.
Moreover, many workers prefer working remotely now, and some would even accept a pay cut to continue doing so. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most intriguing work-life balance studies before and after the world pandemic.
16. Businesses were losing up to $600 billion due to workplace distractions before the pandemic.
(Global Workplace Analysis; SurveyMonkey)
Before the pandemic, working outside the office was never a matter of a choice — both for employees and employers. Then the pandemic imposed a new way to work.
The result? The work-life balance statistics reveal that remote workers’ productivity rose by about 35% to 40%. Furthermore, despite how difficult 2020 was, there was a slight increase in job satisfaction: the Workforce Happiness Index rose from 71 to 72 out of 100.
17. 64% of remote workers feel uncomfortable about returning to the office.
(Pew Research Center)
It seems that most US remote workers forced to work from the comforts of their homes during the pandemic are not yet back in the office. 64% of them say their workplace is still unavailable to them, while 36% choose not to return.
Moreover, work-life balance statistics in the US show that 64% of remote workers are reluctant to return when the doors of their offices open again, 31% of which feel very uncomfortable. 60% of workers prefer working from home, while 57% are concerned about being exposed to COVID-19.
18. 43% of Canadian employees believe that COVID-19 will redefine the typical office hours.
Trends in work-life balance are bound to shift in the near future. Not only do 8 out of 10 Canadians think that 9–5 will no longer be the norm, but they also believe that, with remote work and more flexible hours, everyone will have a better work-life balance. Recent data shows that IT and financial workers are the most likely to benefit from these changes after the pandemic (56%).
19. 23% of full-time employees will accept a pay cut to work from home.
Workers are willing to accept a lower salary if they can work from home. Work-life balance facts and figures from a 2020 Owl Labs survey show that 23% of full-time employees are more than happy to accept a pay cut of over 10% if that means working from home. Most of them would agree on the same terms even if they combine working from home and the office.
Another interesting finding of the survey is that one in two people are not planning to return to jobs that do not offer remote work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Work-life balance statistics say the same number of people would gladly move if they could work from home most of the time.
20. 50% of parents with children younger than 18 admit to having more interruptions at home.
(Pew Research Center)
It seems that parents of younger children are struggling more than the rest while working from home. 50% of parents with children younger than 18 admit to having more distractions and interruptions in their home compared to the office. It looks like there isn’t much of a difference based on gender. For comparison’s sake, work-life balance stats imply that only 20% of remote workers without children claim the same.
Modern-day living and working have many setbacks, and one of the worst is developing an unhealthy work-life imbalance. This imbalance leads to many health problems and a lack of time for personal and family life.
Luckily, the employees are starting to discover how to organize their days better. The data has shown that fewer work hours and bigger flexibility lead to better productivity and greater life satisfaction. Of course, we still have a long way to go, but it looks like the changes for better work-life balance have already started.