New research reveals New Zealand employees are working longer hours and feeling more pressure to be ‘always on’. Given the option to work remotely, more than half would switch employers, and nearly three quarters would do the same for a better work-life balance.

The report by Adobe, titled The Future of Time, surveyed 5,500 enterprise workers and small-to-medium business (SMB) owners across seven global regions, asking respondents where they feel the most time pressure and how it has impacted their work and personal lives.

Half (51%) of New Zealand enterprise workers and 58% of SMB leaders believe they are working longer hours than they would like. The majority (67%) of enterprise workers blame their company, its culture and administrative tasks for the longer hours, which is 5% higher than the global average (62%).

New Zealand businesses will urgently need to respond to employee desire for a better work-life balance, with almost three quarters (72%) of enterprise workers citing poor work-life balance as a key reason to switch jobs, followed by more control over work schedule (63%) and the need for better tools to be more effective (60%).

The option to work remotely is also a significant pull for Kiwi enterprise workers, with more than half (57%) reporting they would switch jobs for this perk, compared to a global average of 54%.

“While New Zealand managed to largely curb the spread of COVID-19, it’s clear from the research that workers are still feeling the strain from the global ripple effect brought on by the pandemic,” said Suzanne Steele, Vice President and Managing Director at Adobe ANZ.

“New ways of working are causing Kiwis to put in longer hours, causing many to seek a better work-life balance and the ability to work remotely. Rising rates of employee dissatisfaction and changes in expectations means employers will need to look closer at how they engage and retain talent.”

The 9-5 work week is officially outdated

For SMB leaders in New Zealand, the average work week is now 45.7 hours, while enterprise employees will work an average of 45 hours per week.

These longer hours are not going unnoticed, with workers feeling the pressure and considering themselves as time poor. According to the data, almost half (48%) of Kiwi enterprise workers and 60% of SMB leaders are feeling the pressure to be ‘always on.’ While 61% of enterprise workers and 63% of SMB leaders feel constantly stretched for time. This struggle for time is most evident in New Zealand, with only 53% of enterprise workers and 57% of SMB leaders stretched for time globally.

Longer and more pressurised hours could be major reasons behind why 60% of enterprise workers would switch jobs if they were offered an extra week of vacation or holiday time, which is the highest amongst all regions and 11% higher than the global average (49%).

Gen Z are leading ‘The Great Resignation’

More than half of Gen Z workers plan to pursue a new job in the next year, more than any other generation. Gen Z are also the least satisfied generation at work, with only 56% satisfied with work-life balance and 59% with their job overall.

This generational group is also feeling the pressure to be more connected. Gen Z (57%) and Millennials (54%) feel most pressured to be available ‘at all times’ and are also most likely to describe their job as repetitive (65% of Gen Z, 58% of Millennials) and tiring (65% for both). Today, 62% of Gen Z feels more pressured than their older colleagues to be working during ‘office hours’, even if they know they won’t be productive.

Tools and technology to retain talent

While the forces behind these trends are large and complex, Adobe says that what is clear from the research is that New Zealand workers have higher expectations for technology and tools to help them work faster and more efficiently.

More than half of (60%) New Zealand enterprise workers reported that they would switch jobs if better tools were available to make them more efficient and effective. Interestingly, 70% of Gen Z and 66% of Millennials are leading the charge in this category.

In the future of the workplace, where employees will continue to work remotely and across offices, the data indicates that employers must embrace user friendly technology tools, AI and automation to retain and attract talent.

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