15 Work-Life Balance Statistics

Written on August 20, 2021

Overview: Work-Life Balance Statistics

  1. Of 38 developed countries, the United States ranks 30th for work-life balance.
  2. 72% of Americans say work-life balance is very important.
  3. 11.4% of Americans work 50 or more hours per week.
  4. Full-time American workers spend just 2.8 hours each day on productive tasks.
  5. 66% of American full-time workers believe they do not have the right work-life balance.
  6. 33% of American full-time workers work on an average Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.
  7. 26% of work is done outside normal working hours.
  8. Workers work at least one hour outside of normal hours on 89 days/year.
  9. Full-time working American men spend 8.35 hours in the workplace each day while women spend 7.84 hours.
  10. 60% of full-time working Americans say overbearing bosses are a reason for poor work-life balance.
  11. 40% of full-time working Americans say it’s okay to answer a work email at the dinner table.
  12. 51% of full-time working Americans say they’ve missed important life events due to poor work-life balance.
  13. Employees working more than 55 hours a week are 1.66x more likely to be depressed than people who work 35-40 hours a week.
  14. 69% of employees say flexible schedules would improve work-life balance.
  15. 55% of employees say allowing remote work would improve work-life balance.

Work is a necessary part of life. You have to earn money to get the food, shelter, clothing, and other essentials you need to live – not to mention the fun things you want. But work can very easily become a burden.

In today’s constantly connected world, maintaining a proper work-life balance is particularly difficult. When you’re reachable at all hours of the day, you’re tempted to respond to work correspondence, contribute to projects, and keep working after you get home.

The lack of work-life balance is a global problem; but it’s especially problematic in the United States, where employees are near-addicted to work. Failing to have a healthy work-life balance can lead to personal failures like missing important life events; but it can also contribute to burnout, depression, and lost productivity. That’s why it’s so important for employers and employees both to facilitate proper work-life balance. These statistics can help make the case for improving work-life balance.

General Work-Life Statistics

1. Of 38 developed countries, the United States ranks 30th for work-life balance.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) studied work-life balance in 38 leading economies using metrics such as hours worked per week and time dedicated to personal and leisure activities. The United States did not rank well. [1]

2. 72% of Americans say work-life balance is very important.

Although the United States doesn’t score well, most Americans believe that work-life balance is very important when considering a job. [2]

3. 11.4% of Americans work 50 or more hours per week.

One of the major reasons America scores so low from the OECD is because so many people work more than 50 hours per week. The number one country, The Netherlands, has only 0.5% of people working more than 50 hours per week. [1]

4. Full-time American workers spend just 2.8 hours each day on productive tasks.

Despite how much Americans work, studies show that the average full-time worker spends less than three hours on each day on actually productive, meaningful work. [3]

5. 66% of American full-time workers believe they do not have the right work-life balance.

Unsurprisingly, a strong majority of Americans feel like they’re lacking balance between work and life. That’s discouraging for the general workforce. [4]

6. 33% of American full-time workers work on an average Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.

The lack of balance is so significant that a third of Americans work on their days off with regularity. [4]

7. 26% of work is done outside normal working hours.

Americans are so used to working outside of their normally scheduled working hours that they do a quarter of their work during that time. [5]

8. Workers work at least one hour outside of normal hours on 89 days/year.

The Harvard Business Review reports that the average worker puts in at least an hour of work outside of their normal work hours very frequently. The study shows that they also work at least an hour on half of all weekend days. [5]

9. Full-time working American men spend 8.35 hours in the workplace each day while women spend 7.84 hours.

The OECD found that women are more likely than men to report better work-life balance and are less likely to miss important family events due to work. This is at least in part because they tend to work shorter hours. [1]

Why Do People Have Poor Work-Life Balance?

10. 60% of full-time working Americans say overbearing bosses are a reason for poor work-life balance.

Overbearing bosses are the primary reason people have poor work-life balance. Other leading contributors are people constantly working outside of business hours (39%), inflexible work hours (39%), incompetent coworkers (31%), and long commutes (30%). [4]

11. 40% of full-time working Americans say it’s okay to answer a work email at the dinner table.

One of the biggest contributors to poor work-life balance? The fact that it’s so normalized! Nearly half of full-time working Americans feel answering work emails at the dinner table is fine. Sometimes, you have to make a conscious choice to disconnect. [4]

The Impacts of Poor Work-Life Balance

12. 51% of full-time working Americans say they’ve missed important life events due to poor work-life balance.

More than half of Americans have missed important life events because of work. That’s problematic. Even worse, 68% say they have poor morale and 36% say they’re actually less productive when they have a poor balance between work and life. [4]

13. Employees working more than 55 hours a week are 1.66x more likely to be depressed than people who work 35-40 hours a week.

Not only does poor work-life balance kill morale, it has far more significant long-term impact on employees as well. Employees who work very long hours are nearly twice as likely to develop depression than those who work a normal 35-40 hour workweek. [4]

How to Improve Work-Life Balance

14. 69% of employees say flexible schedules would improve work-life balance.

Most employees think flexible schedules would be a simple solution to improve work-life balance. Simply letting people complete errands on their own time as long as they get their work done would go a long way toward happier employees. [4]

15. 55% of employees say allowing remote work would improve work-life balance.

The world is getting very used to working remotely these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it may bode well for work-life balance. More than half of employees think remote work improves work-life balance. [4]

The Bottom Line on Work-Life Balance

The United States ranks poorly on work-life balance. Americans work long hours and are so accustomed to working outside of work hours and on weekends that working all the time has become normalized. But today, employees and employers alike are coming up with creative solutions like flexible work schedules and remote work to improve work-life balance. That may just bode well for productivity.

References

  1. http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/work-life-balance/
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/916521/us-economy-importance-work-life-balance/
  3. https://blog.rescuetime.com/work-life-balance-study-2019/
  4. https://familylivingtoday.com/work-life-balance-modern-era/
  5. https://hbr.org/2009/10/making-time-off-predictable-and-required7