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Work/Life Balance. Achievable Target or Impossible Dream?

18 January 2010 | Susan Wareham McGrath | No Comments

My thoughts reflect the recently-released results of a global survey of women conducted by international management consulting firm, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The BCG's survey was the largest global survey of its type, with over 12,000 respondents in 22 countries responding to a battery of 120 questions - and 10,000 pages compiled of verbatim responses to the open-ended questions which formed part of the survey.
According to BCG, no matter where they live, women are over-worked, over-extended, over-stressed and under-served by businesses.
In addition, the survey results indicated that women want time leverage, more value and suppliers that specifically understand them.

BCG reported that 45 per cent of respondents said they didn't have enough time for themselves and 38 per cent said conflicting priorities caused stress.

"High standards and expectations of themselves, plus responsibilities for nutrition, education, home hygiene, clothing and healthcare are the primary sources of stress. Life is a pressure cooker for women. It's a case of high expectations, high demands and few agents of relief", according to BCG senior partner Michael J Silverstein.

BCG found money issues were another major stressor amongst respondents, with 48 per cent reporting that they felt pressure related to managing household finances, 81 per cent feeling that they were not saving enough for retirement, 73 per cent concerned they don't consistently save and 41 per cent saving less than they'd like.

AWALI - women's work-life interference worsening significantly

Closer to home, the work/life balance issue was further explored though the third Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI) survey of work-life interference in Australia, undertaken in March this year.

When statistically controlled for differences in working hours, this year's AWALI survey found that while men's work-life interference has not changed over the past three years, women's has worsened significantly. Women are much more likely than men to feel rushed and pressed for time, and these feelings of time pressure appear to be becoming more common for women.

The 2009 survey also found that two thirds of full-time working women are reporting that they are often or almost always rushed or pressed for time. And this pressure isn't only felt by full time workers, with 58 per cent of part-time working women sharing this pressure.

AWALI's findings also indicated that when controlling for the differences in work hours, employees and those in non-professional and non-managerial occupations report better work-life interference than the self-employed and those in other occupations. AWALI also reports that for the women, the economic slowdown has become associated with worse work/life interference, especially for those in full-time work.


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Susan Wareham McGrath

Susan Wareham McGrath

Susan Wareham McGrath is the founder and principal of Career Ignition, an Australian career strategy and communication firm specialising in the development of career portfolios, branding strategies and online positioning for directors, executives and se...

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