Academics are about half as likely to feel that their job gives them a healthy work-life balance compared with university staff in professional and support roles.
According to the 2014 Times Higher Education Best University Workplace Survey, just 32 per cent of academics agree or strongly agree with the statement “my work responsibilities allow for a healthy work-life balance”, compared with 60 per cent of those in professional and support roles.
Conversely, almost half (49 per cent) of academics disagreed or strongly disagreed with that statement, compared with just 22 per cent of university staff in other higher education roles, the survey of more than 4,500 university employees revealed.
THE is inviting university staff to take part in the 2015 Best University Workplace Survey.
In the 2014 survey results, academics who described themselves as working in the arts and humanities were the most likely to feel that their work commitments prevented them from enjoying a healthy work-life balance (56 per cent), with scholars in the creative arts (53 per cent), education (51 per cent) and social sciences (50 per cent) next in line.
At the other end of the scale, academics in engineering and technology were the least likely to disagree with the statement “my work responsibilities allow for a healthy work-life balance” (43 per cent), followed by those identifying as maths or science scholars (47 per cent).
“There is no work-life balance here,” said one social scientist at a Russell Group institution in the North of England. “I work seven days a week at an average of 60 to 70 hours. I have not taken annual leave in the eight years that I have been here.”
A manager at another research intensive university in the North said that the long hours worked at her institution were “neither rewarded financially nor acknowledged by managers”, adding that “those who try to maintain a good work-life balance are often passed over for promotion or treated as slackers”.
Another academic, at a plate-glass university in southern England, said: “Staff on average work well above EU maximum [recommended] hours per week and since you have no official required working hours, there is no recourse to complain. Evenings, weekends – it is all taken by your job.”
The 2015 THE Best University Workplace Survey is now live. What’s the best thing about working at your university? In what areas do you need more support? We need your help to build up a comprehensive picture of working life inside the UK’s universities.