Work-life balance still elusive for many Hongkongers: poll

Bosses told to be more flexible on hours to create family-friendly workplaces for staff

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 October, 2013, 5:52am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 October, 2013, 8:49am

Hongkongers are still struggling to achieve a work-life balance, a survey has found, prompting calls for companies to make their workplaces more family friendly.

Community Business, a non-profit organisation dedicated to enhancing corporate social responsibility, commissioned the University of Hong Kong to poll 1,048 full-time workers in August.

On a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the most ideal, their average work-life balance "score" was only 6.1 - barely changed from 6 last year.

The score has remained between 5.7 and 6.2 since the survey was first conducted in 2006.

"Companies have the most direct role to play, but obviously the government has a role to play too," senior programme manager Amanda Yik said.

She supported legislating for standard working hours but said there should be exemptions as the law may not be practical for certain businesses, such as law firms.

A committee set up by the government is studying the feasibility of such a law in Hong Kong.

According to a report released last year, employers would have to pay out up to HK$55.2 billion more a year in wages if it was introduced.

The survey also found that 39 per cent of respondents with "family responsibilities" said their career development had been harmed by these. The responsibilities are defined as having to do housework or providing unpaid care for family members, regardless of whether a person is married or single. Those most affected are aged 31 to 40.

Thirty-five per cent of those polled said they had considered quitting, or had already resigned, in order to spend more time with their families. Four in 10 women and three in 10 men were in this category.

Yik said many companies did not have measures in place to create a family-friendly working environment. She said bosses should be more flexible about working hours so their staff could spend more time with family and friends. Companies could also offer paternity leave and extend medical insurance to their employees' family members.

The organisation's chief executive, Fern Ngai, said employers should know that it was important to create a family-friendly work environment in order to keep their staff.