Survey: Workers seek balance with life outside

Updated: 2015-12-08 07:47

By Xu Jingxi in Guangzhou(China Daily)

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Chinese workers, sometimes viewed as busy bees, are attaching more importance to balancing employment with life outside the workplace, a recent survey showed.

Average weekly working hours per person decreased from about 50 hours in 2012 to about 45 hours in 2014, according to the biennial China Labor Force Dynamics Survey by the Center for Social Surveys at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.

The center has conducted the surveys since 2012, tracking 23,594 workers aged 15 to 64 nationwide. The results of the 2014 survey were released on Sunday.

"Work-life balance has risen to become a primary concern of employees in recent years," said Wang Yixin, a senior consultant at the job recruitment website

The site carries out large-scale annual surveys on employees. Work-life balance has topped the list of career goals in the last three years.

In the 2015 survey, 21 percent of those polled placed work-life balance as the top career goal to reach within three years, while 15 percent aimed at becoming a leader and 13 percent sought self-improvement.

"As China's economy enters a new normal of slower growth, there are fewer opportunities to seek big increases in salary," Wang said. "At the same time, with the level of income greatly raised during the period of rapid economic growth, people now are more at ease thinking about improving their quality of life - beyond making money."

However, the general decline in working hours does not mean Chinese people are slacking off on work.

Those who had worked overtime in the month before the poll saw a significant increase in their overtime hours in that month in 2014 over 2012. More than 60 percent of those employees worked overtime voluntarily, mostly for financial rewards.

The survey also found an increase of 9.1 percent in the average wages of Chinese workers compared to 2012, which was attributed to the rise in the wages of workers in eastern areas, said Xu Xianxiang, an economics professor at Sun Yat-sen University.

Fact file

Employers with the highest percentage of employees working overtime in 2014

1. Foreign-invested and joint venture enterprises: 52.7%

2. State-owned enterprises: 39.4%

3. Government departments and public institutions 37.5%

People with the highest percentage of voluntary overtime

1. Farmers: 97%

2. Employees of private non-profit organizations: 73.6%

3. Employees of foreign-invested and joint venture enterprises: 69.9%

Center for social surveys at Sun Yat-Sen university