Working hours rise as recovery gains momentum

The share of white collar staff working 40 or more hours a week has climbed to 84%, according to the Robert Walters Career Lifestyle Survey, up from 82% in 2013.   

The survey also points to an increase in those working 50 or more hours a week, from 28% to 31%.

And while 60% of professionals rate work-life balance as ‘very important,’ for many, unscheduled working hours remain the norm. More than a third of white collar workers put in overtime on most days of the week, with a quarter committing to regular weekend shifts.   

Industry comparison

Staff in financial services (47.7 hours), treasury (46.1 hours) and sales (45.8 hours) put in the longest working week, followed by legal (45.6 hours) and procurement & supply chain (45.5 hours) - all exceeding the national average of 44.6 hours per week.

A correlation is also seen between average earnings and working hours, with those spending longer in the office tending to earn more. Professionals on £100k or more a year work an average of 49.2 hours, compared to 46.2 hours among those on £70-85k, 43.9 hours for those bringing in £40-55k and 38.7 hours for those earning up to £25k per year. 

Career progression most prized

When it comes to job satisfaction, the survey explains that opportunities for career progression are valued above pay & benefits, flexible working hours or company culture.   

35% of professionals would leave a job through lack of career opportunities, compared to 21% because of poor company culture and 13% as the result of a disappointing salary or bonus review.

Just 3% are looking to move on because of a lack of flexible working hours.

Tim Gilbert, Director at Robert Walters, says:

“Although good work-life balance is widely desired, few professionals are naive to the demands of modern business culture. Indeed, six in ten survey respondents agree that going the extra mile to meet deadlines or client expectations is part and parcel of working life.

“However, a large majority of professionals also believe their work has a direct impact on their company’s broader success, and will expect to be offered routes for career advancement in return.

“Faced with increasing competition to retain and recruit specialist staff, the success of the business depends on employers taking the time to understand how they can best deliver these opportunities.” 

For further information, or a full copy of the white paper please contact Alan O'Doherty on or +44 (0)20 7509 8839.

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