Louise Triance’s post about UK workers wanting a siesta coincided with a report from Reuters yesterday, that Hungary may be undergoing a referendum on whether or not an afternoon nap becomes a legal requirement for the workplace. I’m not sure that Hungary’s employers should be too worried yet though, since the fall of communism in 1989 there have been plenty of referendums and only two have passed – joining NATO and the European Union.
Still, it highlighted the work/life balance issue once more. Back in January, This is Money reported that Britons work the longest hours in Europe. Our continental cousins work far less hours, in France the average is 38.2 per week, in Germany it’s 39.9 and yet in the UK it’s 43.5. As a nation, we have a culture of unpaid overtime, and being the last to leave the office can be seen as a badge of status – I’m the busiest person here, I can’t possibly leave on time (although you could argue if you worked smarter, and got your job done during the core work hours you wouldn’t need to stay behind).
Some of the more enlightened employers are now actively encouraging their employees to go home on time instead of burning the midnight oil in the office.
As a recruiter, when I interview candidates and ask what they would like from their next job, work/life balance comes at the top of a lot of lists. Flexible working, working from home, 3 and 4 day weeks are all regular requests. Those employers who are keen to get the best talent, and retain the best people, are aware that offering these benefits can be a huge draw and are often more highly valued than a pay rise.
Still, an afternoon kip would be nice. Wonder if I could nip off to the boardroom and have a cat nap?