Have Employers Lost Sight of Work-Life Balance?

More than half of marketers check email and complete tasks outside regular business hours, yet productivity continues to wane. What does this mean for the future of employee satisfaction and retention?
Employee Engagement

Despite increased awareness, work-life balance seems to be in jeopardy. Employees often feel compelled to stay in contact with their organization, essentially taking an "on-call" approach to their 9 to 5 position. Yet, while this sort of dedication may seem ideal, such behaviors may be the result of lagging productivity.

Workfront's recent "The State of Marketing Work" report explores how the average marketer currently operates within their given organization. Conducted by Harris Poll, the study surveyed 617 full-time or part-time U.S. office workers to establish which factors detract from overall productivity and which elements hinder employee morale. Researchers found that full-time marketing employees work an average of 44.3 hours per week, indicating that the basic 40-hour workweek has been replaced by an innate responsibility to meet company requirements no matter the circumstance.

The following statistics examine why employee productivity may be slacking and how companies can improve work conditions to increase employee satisfaction.

  • Wasteful meetings (64 percent) and excessive emails (61 percent) present the greatest barriers to getting work done, leading marketers to spend only 36 percent of the week doing their prime job duties. Despite this reality, face-to-face meetings (60 percent) and email (55 percent) are still the most effective types of communication within most organizations.
  • Eighty-nine percent of marketers log into their work email outside of standard business hours during the typical workweek, with most doing so every day (56 percent). Nearly as many marketers (85 percent) log into their work email outside standard business hours on the weekends. Fifty-two percent do so to try and get ahead on work, while 32 percent say it's expected at their company.
  • Many marketers (28 percent) believe more or better qualified people and resources would improve work productivity, while others claim that more efficient work processes (22 percent) and uninterrupted blocks of work time (20 percent) would boost output. Marketers also think the ability to access work information from anywhere (60 percent) make them much more productive overall.
  • Only 2 percent of marketers claim they don't experience conflict with any other department or group at work, while the remaining 98 percent cite lack of communication or miscommunication (40 percent) and conflicting priorities (24 percent) as the greatest sources of tension within their company. These conflicts primarily result on lost productivity (40 percent) and lost confidence in other teams (23 percent).
  • Overall, despite their obstacles, marketers are optimistic, as most feel productive at their jobs (92 percent), that at least one colleague has their back (91 percent), and that their boss listens to them (88 percent).
  • While Baby Boomers present the biggest roadblocks on the path to marketing success (52 percent), Gen X remains the most productive (58 percent), while Millennials are outstandingly tech-savvy (74 percent).

Key takeaway: Our culture has become obsessed with work, often assigning greater value to in-office duties than familial and personal responsibilities. In fact, it's hard to deny that work-life balance may be in jeopardy when 6 in 10 marketers report delaying their bathroom break an average of 4.3 times per week just to meet their deadlines. If companies truly value employee productivity, they will view such behaviors as warning signs and actively work to improve conditions for current and future staff. Companies must strike an ideal balance when it comes to face-to-face meetings and emails, only scheduling and sending when absolutely necessary, to free up employee time that can then be redirected toward the important tasks at hand. With more time to complete assignments during their regular workday, employees would be less inclined to log into their email and catch up on work outside traditional business hours. Ultimately, such measures have the power to enhance employee satisfaction and boost retention, as staff members will be happier in their current position, thereby making them more productive by default.