Why are people satisfied with their work-life balance?

According to The Age‘s report of the first Australian Work and Life Index

…work follows most people beyond the office with men especially reporting more “spillover” than women. Yet, in a seemingly contradictory finding, three-quarters of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the bargain struck between work and life. (emphasis added)

The seemingly contradictory statistics run like this: around half of workers say that work interferes with ‘activities outside work’ (combining ‘sometimes’ and ‘often/almost always’) and with ‘community connections’. Sixty percent think that it ‘interferes with ‘enough time for family and friends’. Only 16% say that they ‘never/rarely’ feel rushed for time. Yet 75% say that they are satisfied with their work-life balance.

The missing concept that leads journalists to think these results are contradictory – and a concept that is missing rather too often from labour market analysis – is trade-off. There are more worthwhile things that most of us would like to do than we can fit in a day, a week, or even a life, and this means that we cannot maximise them all in the same time period. Yet we can be satisfied with our overall work-life balance because given the objectives we have we are content with the trade-offs we have made.

This is evident in the statistics provided in Work and Life Index report. Continue reading “Why are people satisfied with their work-life balance?”