More than a third of Australian knowledge industry workers put in extra time in their off-hours work, mainly because of the extra workload, but also because about one in six bosses have asked for it.
A new report, Reset, Restore, Reframe – Enabling well-being through flexible working, of Swinburne Edge and Deloitte, reveals that the idea of ”quiet quitting doesn’t exist in the industry as workers get to their knees to get the job done but often lack guidance from their employers when it comes to managing health and workplace safety (WHS). ) in the new flexible work environment.
The findings complement Swinburne and Deloitte’s research analysis of the views and experiences of 1,553 Australian knowledge workers on flexible working.
The data shows that 34.5% of respondents work more outside normal hours, only 15.1% work less and 48.1% work the same number of hours. When asked about the reasons for working outside standard hours, 62.9% said workload, 43.4% choice and 15.8% said their employer asked them to.
The reportproviding practical guidance to organizations in implementing effective flexible working practices for employee wellbeing, found that 23% of employees said they were working from home without a remote work policy.
dr. Sean Gallagher, director of Swinburne’s Center for the New Workforce, said employees without policies and clear guidelines for managing their time away from home are exposed to psychosocial risks, such as low role clarity and little control over work. The report finds that a significant number of Australian organizations are unlikely to meet their obligations as part of the new WHS guidelines on psychosocial safety.
Recent updates to the WHS model legislation now formally require organizations to manage psychosocial risks in addition to physical risks through the implementation of an effective risk assessment and control framework.
“Flexible work is the new frontier for organizations to manage the well-being of their employees. Flexible working gives the individual more time and control – a better work-life balance – allowing them to better prioritize their well-being, both during and outside work,” he said.
“Our research shows that flexible working allows most people to feel a better balance in their lives and experience a better level of mental and physical well-being. This is a critical connection for employers to recognize.”
dr. Gallagher said flexible workers told them they want and need leadership to ensure flexible working suits their individual needs and concerns.
“For example, millennials are more likely to worry about their choice of work location negatively impacting their career prospects (1.3x) or relationships at work (1.1x),” he said.
“Women are 1.7x more likely than men to choose ‘home’ as their preferred location compared to ‘office’.
“Flexible work policies should be fair rather than equal, while meeting the needs of the workforce and the organization. Consulting with their employees on how to balance the equation between employee expectations and organizational needs is leadership in action.”
The finding concluded that hybrid and flexible work, when structured effectively, improves both employee performance and well-being, and that leaders, and the examples they set, are critical to making this happen.
But organizations struggle with the notion: 70% of respondents who said their organization had a formal remote work policy reported problems with working from home.
Deloitte Australia partner Justin Guiliano said poor implementation of flexible working arrangements could lead to unintended consequences, such as blurred work-life boundaries and increased workload, which are detrimental to employee wellbeing.
“We see such a variety of preferences in where, when and how to work across the Deloitte team and our customers and this report discusses some of the key factors to consider when maximizing well-being through flexible working” , he said.
“A surprising finding was that the proportion of people who prefer hybrid work doubles when respondents had more than two dependents in the household. An important factor that deserves further attention is the impact that leaders can have on employees and their well-being through trust and expectations when it comes to flexible working.”