Article: Working on Weekends: More Common than You Think

Life @ Work

Working on Weekends: More Common than You Think

Two individual surveys prove what we all dread: Working on weekends has become a habit
Working on Weekends: More Common than You Think

No matter how meticulously you plan your week to prevent work from spilling over into the weekend, a review here, an email there or a follow-up generally remains. We have become so habitual to living in a constant mode of fire-fighting that we take for granted a part of the weekend being devoted to work. Two individual surveys that were published recently show just how severe the problem is world-over:

65% in the UK work on weekends: Boundless Research

Membership organization Boundless collected responses from some 2,000 full-time employees, crunched some numbers and announced that an average office worker in the UK would earn an extra £3,359 per year on average, if they were paid for the work they put in on weekends. Here are some other interesting findings from their research:

  • Over 25% of the workers admitted to working almost the entire day – between 5 to 8 hours – on a Saturday; the same figure for Sunday was 23%. 
  • 43% of the respondents feel that working on the weekend was the only way to ensure that they can complete their responsibilities whereas 22% said that they did so because of an expectation from the colleagues. 
  • 65% of the workers do extra work on the weekend – no questions asked. 82% have worked during the weekend at least once in the last six months, and 33% said that they have worked for a third of all weekends in the past six months.
  • 33% of the public workers said they have no choice but to work on the weekends, due to a shortage of staff, whereas 23% in the private sector admitted to the same. 
  • Almost 30% admitted to working 3 to 6 hours extra on Friday evenings in order to avoid taking work home. However, 40% said they couldn’t relax at the weekend, despite putting in extra time on Friday evenings. 
  • The realization that they are putting in more effort than required leads to resentment and a feeling that they are not paid adequately, says the survey. For example, 60% of public sector employees and 46% of the private sector employees felt their pay was lower than the amount of work they did. 

James Robertson, head of marketing at Boundless, says in the report, “There were significant differences between the private and public sectors in terms of reasons for working weekends... All this overtime at the weekends puts a huge strain on people’s work-life balance. Our research showed that that 46 percent of public sector workers feel like their work-life balance is all wrong, compared to 39 percent of those in the private sector. It is crucial that people maximise their spare time and make the most of it, or we risk work dominating our lives. In our research, most office workers chose to spend their spare time with friends and family, which is great to see, but nearly 40 percent said their family or partner complains that they never switch off from work.”

More employees are working on the weekends: RAND survey 

Not-for-profit RAND Corporation revealed the results of a survey that sought to understand the working conditions in the USA. The American Working Conditions Survey, fielded in 2015, studied some 3,000 respondents in great detail and found that over half the respondents undertake work-related assignments on their personal time. Here’s what else the survey found:

  • American employees lead a very physically and emotionally demanding life; more than 66% constantly work under tight deadlines and 25% feel they have too little time to do their work. 
  • More than 33% of the respondents had no control over their work schedule, and over 50% admitted to being exposed to potentially dangerous working conditions.
  • About 75% say their work involved intense or repetitive physical work, and 62% say that their work is typically monotonous.
  • Only 38% of the respondents were of the view that their job offers good prospects for career progression.
  • On the bright side, solving unforeseen problems (82%) and applying own ideas (85%) also get a massive endorsement, and 84% admitted to learning new things at their job.
  • Similarly, 58% describe their boss as supportive, and 56% say they have good friends at their workplaces. 

We increasingly seem to have a workplace that expects us to be always available, on demand. And yet the employer doesn’t always return the favor by allowing workers the ability to adjust their hours when they need to for personal matters” Nicole Maestas, who teaches at Harvard Medical School and served as the report’s lead researcher, says in a report

Both the surveys indicate that catching up with work on the weekend is deemed as a necessity by a majority of workers, who report being pressed for time. Today, when organizations are trying to instill a profound send of work-life balance in the lives of their employees, these findings are rather alarming. They just go onto to show, that in order to actually walk the talk, companies have a long way to go. Furthermore, the findings talk about British and American workers, but conditions in a developing country like India aren’t likely to be any better, with intense competition, huge workload and long working hours. While there is no one solution to fix the issue, until the last employee at the organization feels at ease with his/her work, the job won’t be nearly done. 

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Topics: Life @ Work

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