While employees end up spending most of their time at their workplaces, the activities they do in their spare time is equally important for their physical and mental wellbeing, whether it is about spending time with their family and friends, or traveling or pursuing a new skill or hobbies.
A new global survey examines how 3,000 employees across eight nations view their relationship with work and life. Asking the simple question, “What would you do with more time?” these results from The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace came from a survey of workers across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S.
With more time, the top five things people worldwide wish they could do more of are spend time with family (44 percent); travel (43 percent); exercise (33 percent); spend time with friends (30 percent); and pursue their hobbies (29 percent). Rest and relaxation were the other big themes that featured, as 27 percent of people said they would want to get more sleep and nearly one-quarter (22 percent) would focus on mental health. More sleep is a universal desire regardless of age – from Gen Z (27 percent) to Baby Boomers (26 percent) – although U.S. workers (33 percent) crave more sleep than all other nations, with Indian workers desiring the least amount of additional shuteye (16 percent).
While all nations rate spending time with family and travel as their top two desires, the remaining top five “more time” wish lists vary by country. Employees in France, Germany, U.S., and the U.K. listed “sleep more” as a top five-priority; U.K. and India workers wish they had time to learn a new skill or hobby; people in Mexico and India would spend more time watching TV, movies, or listening to music; and Mexican employees were the only ones to have “read more” in their top five. On the bright side, 62 percent of all workers agree that their job offers enough flexibility to have a healthy work-life balance, while only 14 percent either disagree or strongly disagree.
Regardless of age, role, level, or country, all employees wish they could spend more time developing new skills, as it was the top-rated answer for both individual contributors (44 percent) and people managers (40 percent) alike – with exactly half of Gen Z respondents and 47 percent of Millennials craving more time to develop skills. A whopping 66 percent of employees in India wish they had time to develop new skills, with the U.K. (49 percent), Mexico (48 percent), and Australia (47 percent) following suit as the nations where more professional development is desired the most.
People managers specifically would spend more time with people, as four of their top six answers include developing or training employees (no. 2); building relationships with their team (no. 4); coaching or mentoring others (no. 6 – tie); and helping customers (no. 6 – tie). While helping customers was the second highest-rated wish for individual contributors (31 percent) – and a greater desire the older the worker – the remaining top-five desires fall squarely in the personal maintenance camp: take a meal break (no. 3); take a mental break / meditate (no. 4); and catch up on work (no. 5). Both managers and employees – especially in Australia – wish they could spend more time on long-term or significant projects (27 percent and 23 percent, respectively), and 23 percent of employees wish they had more time to innovate, brainstorm new ideas, or find a better way of doing things. Workers in Mexico (37 percent), Canada (27 percent), and Germany (26 percent) would use extra time to exercise during the workday. On the opposite spectrum, only 13 percent of U.K. employees would use extra time to exercise, but 32 percent wish there was more time to eat.
Workers in Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. apparently feel the busiest, as they are most likely to spend additional time in the day simply catching up on work. While organizations in France need to watch out, as one in four French workers would spend extra time looking for a new job compared to the worldwide average of 16 percent and Mexico at only 11 percent.
If we consider the India-specific figures, here’s what we can see:
52 percent Indians want to spend additional time with family
46 percent Indians want to additional spend time travelling
32 percent Indians want to spend additional time with friends
20 percent Indians want to spend additional time pursuing hobbies
29 percent Indians want to spend additional time focusing on mental health
35 percent Indians would like to pursue entertainment activities during additional time off
Commenting on the survey, James Thomas, Country Manager, India, Kronos Incorporated said, “It’s not surprising to see that the survey reflects an aspiring young India seeking more opportunities to acquire a new skill, unlearn or re learn if they find spare time or added time as a key get away. It’s rather intriguing to see that they might put off a family vacation and instead put in those extra hours to acquire a new skill or a certification. While family vacations are important , this might reflect the anxiety of workforces in India to skill themselves to today’s job specs better and also might be hinting at Indian employers seeking to acquire better qualified workers with right skills to the right jobs as traditional jobs are being replaced by 4IR jobs. Therefore, this can also be viewed as an opportunity for employers to provide the necessary support and learning opportunities to current employees as a means to retaining talent as well as driving higher employee engagement at the workplace.”
Commenting on the survey, Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos said, “While the vast majority of workers say work interferes with their personal lives, it’s clear that people want to do meaningful work and want to do well by their employers. It’s the employer’s responsibility not only to provide workers with the tools, processes, and resources to optimize their time at work, but also to empower employees to best manage work-life harmony with clear and specific time-off policies, creative and self-service scheduling solutions, benefits to help relax and refuel, and, above all, open communication between the company, employees, and their people managers to ensure time while working is time well spent.”
Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and research director, Future Workplace, said, “Workers worldwide clearly see the benefit to stay relevant in their jobs by investing time in training, yet also desire more time with their family, to travel, and get fit. Instead of trying to have a balanced lifestyle, which is especially difficult in today’s highly connected, technology-driven world, workers should seek integration, ensuring they allocate time to their biggest professional and personal priorities each day. There’s more of a need today to work smarter and be more efficient to free up time to invest in things that matter most, inside and outside of work.”