AFR Director Phil Scott -Too much work & unpaid overtime impacts work-life balance of NW finance professionals

For the average UK employee a typical working week is 43.5 hours, but if you’re providing professional services then that figure can rise to 60 hours per week.  So why do senior professionals work such long hours?

During difficult times employees, worried about job security, will often respond by working longer in the hope of avoiding of redundancy.  But it’s not the only reason; technology has made it easier than ever to keep working even when we’ve left the office. Laptops, Skype meetings and smart-phones are now widespread making us available at any time of the day.  The result is even more pressure on our work-life balance.

AFR Consulting recently conducted a work-life survey to understand the impact of long hours on holidays, health and pay.  The findings mirror those of the rest of theUK.

Longer hours and fewer holidays

On average finance professionals work 8.3 hours of unpaid overtime (1 hour more than the UK average), and one person surveyed typically did 50 hours of overtime per week.  Almost 25% of FDs were working over 15 hours unpaid overtime and 75% work a minimum of 6 hours unpaid overtime.  Overwhelmingly, the reasons stated behind these long hours was simply too much work to finish in normal hours and 18% felt they were under pressure from the business to put in extra hours.  Although 16% did say they worked longer because they liked their job.

This pressure to work long hours is reflected in the fact that 30% of those surveyed did not use all their annual leave entitlement and over half of them said it was because they were too busy to take holidays.

Unsurprisingly, given the wider economic business climate, almost 30% have not had a pay-rise in the last two years.  However the conditions and pressures don’t seem to be affecting health, as 90% had less than 3 days off sick in the last two years and 59% have not had a single day off sick. These results are far better than recent CBI figures for the UK which showed that the average worker takes 6.4 sick days per year.

The days of 9 to 5 are long gone

Financial challenges, company culture and technology means people now expect they’ll have to work longer hours – and sometimes it’s crucial to a business’ success or survival.  But if too much time is spent working then it can have consequences on personal lives whether it’s suffering from stress and fatigue or damaging family relationships.

Of the Finance Directors surveyed only 30% felt they had achieved work life balance.  And these figures should concern employers. There is evidence this trend of working very long hours may not continue. Some employees are responding by seeking out companies that offer a better work-life balance, and research shows they work harder for those that do.


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