Whether it’s a last minute meeting, a task that will just take a moment, a phone call that can’t be ignored or your inbox needs a clean out, many of you don’t manage to make it out the door on time. The ASU is urging our members and supporters to make an effort this Wednesday to Go Home On Time for the sake of work-life balance because ignoring this balance can have serious consequences.
The scenarios that keep you working past your official finish time are the inspiration behind national Go Home on Time Day which will be held this Wednesday 20 November. GHOTD is an initiative of The Australia Institute in partnership with beyondblue, supported by many other organisations including the ASU.
The Day is a light-hearted way to start a serious conversation about work-life balance and we’re thrilled that your organisation has registered to participate.
But you might be asking yourself, why is going home on time important?
It’s important because poor work-life balance has serious consequences for our physical and mental health, our relationships with loved ones and our productivity at work.
Here are some stats to get you thinking:
- Australians work some of the longest hours in the developed world, and this year we will work $110 billion worth of unpaid overtime
- 3.8 million Australians routinely don’t take a lunch break but a majority acknowledge that when they do it makes them more productive
- One in two Australian workers didn’t take their full annual leave entitlements last year
- One in four employees checks their work emails and answers work calls outside of work hours
- Australians work three times more hours of unpaid overtime than they volunteer to community organisations.
CEO of beyondblue, Ms Kate Carnell AO, believes it’s important that both employees and employers recognise the direct link between working long hours and mental health.
“Everyone experiences peaks in their workload which require working longer hours occasionally, but if you’re ‘under the pump’ consistently, it can lead to job stress which is linked to depression and anxiety. Depression caused by job stress costs Australian businesses $12.3 billion every year through reduced productivity and staff turnover. So poor work-life balance takes its toll on both employees and businesses,” she said.
Executive Director of The Australia Institute Dr Richard Denniss said despite Australia’s reputation for being a land of ‘sickies’ and ‘smokos’ the evidence suggests otherwise.
“Lunch breaks have always been a part of modern workplaces, but in recent decades more and more people report that they are too busy or too rushed to do something as simple as walk away from their desk to eat their lunch. While Australians used to celebrate the practice of taking a long lunch, we’re now struggling to even manage a short one,” he said.
Here are five tips for going home on time
- Decide what time you’re going home before you go to work
- Identify early any tasks that might prevent you from going home on time and speak to your manager about their expectations
- Take a lunch break – it can clear the head and boost productivity
- Schedule activities for after work e.g. meet a friend at the gym, take the kids to the park
- Make a commitment to go home on time once a week or once a month; it’s easier to do something if it is seen as routine.
If you would like to read more about the physical and mental health impacts of poor work-life balance, you can download the following research papers by The Australia Institute for free.
- Something for nothing: Unpaid overtime in Australia
- Long time, no see: The impact of time poverty
- Polluted time: Blurring the boundaries between work and life
- An unhealthy obsession: The impact of work hours and workplace culture on Australia’s mental health