Long hours put pressure on finance professionals

May 16 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Financial services employers have been warned that they need to address their long hours cultures and help staff balance their work and home lives following a promotion or risk losing them to another company.

New research among 1,100 finance professionals in the UK by recruitment consultancy Robert Half Finance & Accounting reveals that four out of 10 find balancing their work and home lives the most challenging aspect of gaining a promotion.

The survey, carried out in conjunction with Accountancy Age magazine, also found that work-life balance problems increase with age, with 44 per cent of those in the 36 to 55 age brackets finding that striking a balance between their work and home lives is their biggest challenge compared to only 28 per cent of those aged 25 or under.

But while men claim to work longer hours than women (37 per cent putting in a 46 or more hour week compared to only 22 per cent of women), no major differences emerged between the proportions of men (39 per cent) and women (40 per cent) complaining of work-life balance problems.

Overall, almost a third (31 per cent) claim to work a 46 hour week or more, and of these five per cent work more than 55 hours per week.

The results also suggest that finance professionals are under pressure to put the extra hours in, with 44 per cent feeling guilty if they don't. Nevertheless, only one in 10 (nine per cent) have ever had anyone complain that they haven't put in enough hours.

For employers, meanwhile, the clear message is that staff are not afraid to look for a better alternative if they feel their needs are not being met. More than half (52 per cent) have done so in the past while almost six out of 10 say they are not satisfied with their current career progression.

"Our survey reveals a very serious message for employers Ė that finance professionals are not afraid to move companies to further their careers," said Dave Jones, UK Managing Director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

"They are looking for career development and employers have to not only work to retain their best people but help those who have been promoted cope with the new pressures of the job.

"Achieving a healthy work life balance is one of the most difficult challenge employees face so they need some help from their bosses. Companies need to encourage their staff to work reasonable hours, and those in charge need to lead by example.

"Flexible working policies can bring huge rewards including higher employee productivity, motivation and commitment, as well as improved recruitment and retention," he added.