Research finds staff working $71.2 billion unpaid hours

by Victoria Bruce11 May 2016
Australian employers could be inadvertently damaging their "employer brands" after new research finds full-time employees are working up to the equivalent of $71.2 billion in unpaid hours each year.

Full-time employees were working an average of 42.25 hours per week – 4.25 hours more than the contracted 38 hours per week they are supposed to work – equating up to $71.2 billion in unpaid overtime every year, according to employer branding research by HR and recruitment agency Randstad.

Randstad CEO Frank Ribuot said that many Australians were working considerably longer hours than required by their employment contract, which could have a detrimental effect on the employer’s brand and encourage higher staff turnover.

“On the surface, employers may see the additional hours’ staff are putting into their job as a positive indicator they are engaged and invested in producing the best work possible,” Ribuot says.

“But the reality is the benefit of any increased output comes at the expense of workers’ personal time,” he says.

He says employers may ultimately suffer as talented staff move on to find jobs with a better work-life balance.

“Work-life balance is of critical importance to workers,” Ribuot says.

He said a company’s employer brand could be impacted, particularly in regards to employee attraction and retention if employers allow and even encouraging staff to consistently work additional hours for ‘free’ during what should be leisure time, with no real acknowledgement of the extra time investment, will have a big impact on a company’s employer brand, particularly in regards to employee attraction and retention.”

According to the report, more than one-third (34 per cent) of Australian workers intending to change employers in the next six to 12 months cited work-life balance issues as a factor in their decision.

Of those staying with their employer, almost two-thirds (62 per cent) cited good work-life balance as the top reason to stay.

In addition, almost half of workers surveyed said good work-life balance is one of their top five considerations when assessing a potential new employer.

Ribuot says an employer brand determines the quality of the workforce.

“It drives the level of engagement, motivation and retention of top talent – all factors which are ultimately linked to higher revenues, profit margins and overall returns on investment,” Ribuot said.

“Organisations with a strong employer brand have 28 per cent lower staff turnover and 84 per cent of people would leave their current job to work for a business with a better reputation.”

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