Three years later and Leading Edge asked its members how they managed their work-life balance, if it had changed and, if so, how.
The study revealed that fewer than 5% work more than 60 hours a week, which is less than the national average of 11% which was shown in the Department for Education and Employment's work-life balance baseline survey in 2000. The majority of Leading Edge members work between 41 and 50 hours a week.
Two thirds of respondents work longer now than when they joined the industry and their main reason is promotion and increased responsibilities. One member believes that "as you progress in the industry, the demands on your time from senior/top accounts increases, together with demands from fellow colleagues".
Another says: "Administration/ secretarial support seems to be a thing of the past in such cost-conscious times. If I had the facility to delegate a lot of the day-to-day bits and pieces I could spend more quality time concentrating on the valuable aspects of my job, which could lead to a shorter working week."
Six out of 10 members think that pursuing interests outside work was becoming more of a challenge, with many able to cite recent examples of when they were unable to fulfil a leisure commitment. One member was asked to compete in a sporting league but was dropped from the side after missing three consecutive training sessions through work. Many have had to give up external activities because of tiredness from increased hours.
Only 37% of respondents believe their employer helps them to achieve a better work-life balance. This is mainly through flexible working patterns. One member states that although his company has introduced flexible hours, in practice "this does not work because early leaving is frowned upon and difficult to manage because people still try to contact you." However, the majority of Leading Edge respondents believe flexible working is available at their company. As one member puts: "My manager is very understanding when I occasionally need to take time off to deal with personal issues. He appreciates that equally, on occasions, I give my time to meet work commitments."
Senior consultant at Mercer, David Tong, says that "many organisations fail to clearly communicate their policies or support for flexible working". So, the work-life balance seems ultimately to fall on the shoulders of the employee. The added responsibilities and increased demands on a person's time due to promotion mean that the work-life balance, probably previously unnoticed, comes more into focus. Many companies have policies on the work-life balance, but the survey shows they are often not well publicised internally and implementation is left to the individual.
For the full Leading Edge survey results please visit