Work-Life Balance: Every New Zealand industry compared

Published 10 October 2023 | 2 min read

91% of NZ workers say work-life balance is important to them, but what do people really want?

In today's fast-paced world, achieving a healthy work-life balance is a top priority for New Zealanders. SEEK's latest Laws of Attraction data reveals that work-life balance is a critical consideration for workers in the country, reflecting the experiences many have had over the past few years.

New Zealanders care about work-life balance. But what does work-life balance really mean? And how do different industries compare?

The traditional definition of work-life balance is a 40-hour workweek, weekends off, and paid holidays. But in today's world, that's not always realistic. Many people work long hours, and they may have to work on weekends or holidays.

Even if someone has a traditional work schedule, they may still feel like they don't have enough time for their personal life. They may have to work late to finish a project, or they may have to take work home with them.

What's clear is that work-life balance means different things to employees across different industries. Industry conditions and specific job requirements play a significant role in shaping these preferences.

For instance, the ability to work remotely ranks highest for those in the Accounting, Consulting & Strategy industry, while those in Hospitality & Tourism value time in lieu more. So, the question becomes...

What does work-life balance truly mean to workers in your industry?

Let's delve into the SEEK data to understand the unique preferences of different industries when it comes to work-life balance:

Accounting, Consulting & Strategy:

  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 56%
  • Flexible working hours = 36%
  • Time in lieu = 22% 

Administration & Office Support:

  • Time in lieu = 35%
  • Regular working hours = 28%
  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 28%

Advertising, Arts & Media, Design & Architecture, Marketing & Communications:

  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 49%
  • Flexible working hours = 42%
  • Time in lieu = 35%

Construction, Resources & Energy, Engineering, Procurement, Manufacturing & Transport:

  • Time in lieu = 36%
  • Flexible working hours = 30%
  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 27%

Data Science & Analytics and Science & Technology:

  • Flexible working hours = 42%
  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 42%
  • Time in lieu = 37%

Education & Training:

  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 35%
  • Flexible working hours = 34%
  • Time in lieu = 31%

Farming, Animals & Conservation, Community Services & Development, Sport & Recreation Industries:

  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 36%
  • Time in lieu = 33%
  • Flexible working hours = 31%

Healthcare & Medical:

  • Time in lieu = 44%
  • Additional leave = 32%
  • Flexible working hours = 31%

Hospitality & Tourism:

  • Time in lieu = 50%
  • Additional leave = 34%
  • Ability to buy annual leave / take unpaid leave = 33%

Human Resources & Recruitment:

  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 53%
  • Flexible working hours = 46%
  • Time in lieu = 39%

Information & Communication Technology:

  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 66%
  • Flexible working hours = 51%
  • Time in lieu = 26%

Insurance & Superannuation, Banking & Financial Services:

  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 59%
  • Flexible working hours = 43%
  • Time in lieu = 35%

Legal, Government & Defence:

  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 48%
  • Flexible working hours = 39%
  • Time in lieu = 32%

Real Estate & Property and Sales & Business Development:

  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 33%
  • Time in lieu = 30%
  • Additional leave = 22%

Retail & Consumer Products, Call Centre & Customer Service:

  • Time in lieu = 43%
  • Additional leave = 39%
  • Ability to work from home / remotely = 34%

Trades & Services:

  • Time in lieu = 33%
  • Regular working hours = 25%
  • Additional leave = 25%

One-size-fits-all approaches to work-life balance simply don't work. Employers who fail to understand the unique needs of their industry risk losing out on top talent and struggling to retain their workforce.

Focus on what job seekers want

To attract and retain the best talent, it's crucial to align your company's offerings with the desires of job seekers. Clearly communicate the most important work-life balance factors in your job ads, as this can significantly enhance a role's attractiveness.

For instance, if remote working arrangements are important in your industry, highlight how your company supports remote work. Aimee Hutton, Head of Customer Insights and Strategy at SEEK, emphasizes the importance of job ads in demonstrating empathy and understanding of what people truly want. It's about speaking the language of candidates and showing how you can make it happen.

Salary matters too

In addition to work-life balance, salary remains one of the most crucial factors for job seekers. SEEK data reveals an astonishing 80.3% increase in job applications when salary information is included in a job ad.

Both work-life balance and salary are paramount considerations for job seekers across all industries. However, the specific elements of work-life balance vary from one industry to another.

Understanding the nuanced preferences of workers in different industries is the key to hiring and retaining top talent in New Zealand. By tailoring your job ads to address the most important work-life balance factors and providing competitive salaries, you can enhance your company's appeal and build a satisfied, loyal workforce. In a world where work and life intertwine, striking the right balance can lead to a thriving workplace and business success.

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