Absences up with 50% of workers craving flexibility and fewer hours
13 July 2009 8:11am
Australian employees who work more than 40 hours a week are more likely to take sickies or be on the lookout for a new job, a study has revealed.
Study author Rosie Bauld, of Griffith University, told delegates at the recent Industrial and Organisational Psychology conference in Sydney that Australians want shorter working hours and more flexibility in their jobs.
From a survey of more than 3,300 workers, Bauld found that nearly half were unhappy with their hours, and that those who worked a 45-hour week were less satisfied with their jobs than those who worked 36 hours.
"If staff feel their work is negatively impacting their personal life," she says, "they are more likely to have higher absenteeism rates or look for alternative employment."
Bauld says that more than half of workers would prefer to work a four-day week with 10-hour days; some 47 per cent would opt for flexible start and finish times; 36 per cent would like to work from home; and 12 per cent would prefer to work part-time.
Employers that offer such options, she says, can increase employee retention and engagement and reduce absences.
"The benefits often outweigh the cost of replacing staff or managing overworked and stressed employees," she says.
"A challenge for organisations is to ensure employees understand that flexible work options are a viable alternative and not just lip-service.
"Many staff still feel there will be negative consequences for choosing to work from home or outside of traditional office hours.
"Managers and supervisors need to lead by example and demonstrate flexibility themselves."
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