"Work-life balance? What I want is just a simple free weekend. With enough sleep, I can go shopping or stay with my boyfriend; just like other girls. " Miss. Zhao, a 23- year- old girl said. She is now working in a Taiwanese clothing enterprise for six working days per week with at least 12 working hours per day. She even works on Sundays and holidays. She has long working hours as the boss will call her anytime even on Sundays.
At the end of last year, Zhao lost approximately 5 kilograms in a month due to the frequent overtime. Upon completion of the project, she was so weak that even a small cold could put her in bed for weeks. Zhao cried . "I still had to continue working, or they won't pay me full salary if I take sick leave for more than one day."
Mr Chen just had his 30th birthday. He now works as a sales manager in a company and is highly appreciated by his boss. Last year, he got married and bought his own house. Though he looks happy, he suffers a lot indeed. His wife quit her job to take care of the baby, so he has to bear the financial burden of the whole family-- including RMB 3,000 for the mortgage, other expenses of the baby such as milk powder, diapers, clothes, toys, future education, etc.
"The longer I work, the more I am worried" said Mr Chen. Now, he is afraid of losing any of his clients, for every client can bring him commission income. Therefore, his working hours have become longer and longer. He attends to every detail in his work. He is so tired that he falls asleep quickly when he returns home. "I have no time for my baby, not even for my own personal life."
Actually, with the rapid development of the Chinese economy and the keen market competition, there are more and more people like Miss Zhao and Mr. Chen. They find it difficult to achieve work-life balance. The latest global research results released by N-Dynamic Market Research & Consultancy Ltd show that as high as 59% of Chinese people are severely suffering from work-life imbalance 10% higher than the 24 countries' average. This is an alarming issue in China.
The survey, with almost 140,000 people participating, was conducted by International Research Institutes (IRISIRIS). IRIS IRIS is a network of market research agencies from 35 different countries covering four continents. Membership is limited to those who pass stringent quality standards and have sufficient experience in conducting international surveys. N-Dynamic Market Research Consultancy Ltd. is the only member of IRISIRIS in mainland China. In this survey, N-Dynamic randomly interviewed 600 people who are at least 18 years old and with at least one year working experience in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
Almost 40% of Chinese people dissatisfied with job
According to the survey, about 65% of Chinese people complained about the unbalance between work and life. However, Chinese people are not the most tired in the world. In the 'unbalanced' index, people in some developed countries such as Britain and America are more unbalanced. The Korea is the worst since as many as 92% of Korean people are now suffering from work- life unbalance. They are the people who are least likely to enjoy life in the world. The Netherlands' people are the most satisfied. 57% of them find themselves achieving work-life balance.
The majority of Chinese people refer to "low salary" and "long working hours" as reasons contributing to work-life unbalance. The survey shows that 37% of the Chinese people are dissatisfied with their jobs, it is only lower than both Korea and Japan.
In addition, over 35% of Chinese people are suffering from pressure from their families. They also think that the need to take care of their family members is one of the most important reasons that lead to work-life unbalance. "The one-child policy, the aging society and the high value Chinese people place in the family have created such pressure" explained Priscilla Sze, Managing Director of N-Dynamic.
The 30- year- old suffer the most
According to the survey, Chinese people aged 26-35 suffer the most. They occupy 33% of the total work-life unbalanced population in China. Though the majority of them have achieved some success with a stable salary and have established their own family, they find their income not able to cover their expenses. "Before our marriage, my girlfriend and I found that we were short of money, but we could still spend based on how much we earn. However, everything seems to be totally different after our marriage and the birth of our baby. We need to spend a lot on our mortgage and the baby". Mr. Chen's words are representative of most people aged 30. They are more stressed than other people and find work-life more unbalanced. Over 30% of them stated that work-life unbalance has affected their health and private life.
Additionally, the situation of young females aged 18-25 is also worrying for nearly 70% of them are dissatisfied with their unbalanced work and life. 'Long working hours', 'low salary', 'too little holidays' are major reasons contributing to work-life unbalance. "I can be a millionaire if my overtime is paid" said Miss Zhao. "It is difficult to find a good job. My classmates have already changed 4 to 5 jobs but are still dissatisfied. I am very tired now, but I hope that it will be better after one or two years."
Males and females have different solutions to the same issue
62% of Chinese people have made an effort to achieve work-life balance. It ranks the fourth among all countries. However, there are apparent differences between males' and females' ways of resolving the problem. Females tend to relieve the pressure through leisure activities such as travel, shopping and sports. For example, Mrs Zhao chooses to practice yoga in a health club.
On the other hand, males tend to relieve pressure by taking care of their career Nearly 47% of them are trying to get "more flexible working hours", and 33% want to "improve their working environment". Moreover, 72% of males want to "set up their own business", which is 11% higher than females. They consider being the boss the best way to balance work and life.
A strong crave for digital products for relieving pressure
This survey also shows that Chinese people have great interest in high-tech products. High tech products can be used for entertainment, relieving pressure, improving efficiency, and reducing work hours. Therefore, almost all Chinese people believe that high-tech products can be used for achieving work-life balance. For example, Miss Zhao will use her laptop for movies when she has time. Mr Chen is creating his home theatre. They told us that high-tech products have already become part of their lives.
Compared with other countries, Chinese people have high interest in laptop computers, cell phones, smart phones, instant messaging and digital cameras. They have also indicated high purchase intention in the next 12 months.
Priscilla Sze, Managing Director of N-Dynamic Market Research, stated that work-life unbalance in China has stimulated people's desire to consume. The potential in China is huge. However, only those who understand the specific needs of Chinese consumers could be the final winner.
IRIS is able to 'be global and think local'. It is a network of market research agencies from 35 different countries covering 4 continents. Membership is limited to those who pass stringent quality standards and have sufficient international research experience. All members have a long history of providing effective solutions for business and institutional research requirements, offering unrivalled expertise, global extent and the capacity to meet client requirements almost anywhere with maximum flexibility.
For details, please visit IRIS website: www.IRISnetwork.org
About the global "Work-life balance" study
Interviews were conducted among a total of 13,832 residents in 24 countries in August, 2006. Respondents were active adults (aged 18 or older, working as a full-time employee for more than 1 year). All of the research companies involved are members of IRIS.
Number of interviews (unweighted): Australia 500, Brazil 476, Canada 513, China 600, Denmark 465, France 500, Germany 501, Greece 515, Ireland 403, Japan 3,000, Korea 500, Mexico 500, Norway 255, Netherlands (The) 419, Poland 500, Portugal 400, Romania 500, Russian Federation 506, Spain 500, Sweden 263, Switzerland 504, Thailand 500, UK 512, USA 512. Each country's data were weighted (up or down) to 1,000 so that all have equal impact on the final results.
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