AUSTRALIAN full-time employees are notching up to $71.2 billion worth of unpaid hours every year, according to Randstad.

The HR and recruitment firm's branding research has found full-time employees are working 42.25 hours per week on average - more than the contracted 38 hours per week.

Part-time workers reported working an extra unpaid hour at 25 hours every week on average. This equates to an additional $3.2 billion worth of hours annually.

Randstad Australia & New Zealand CEO Frank Ribuot says many Australians are putting in longer hours, despite work-life balance being a priority.

"On the surface, employers may see the additional hours staff are putting into their job as a positive indicator they are engaged and invested in producing the best work possible," Ribuot says.

"But the reality is, the benefit of any increased output comes at the expense of workers' personal time.

"Allowing and even encouraging staff to consistently work additional hours for 'free' during what should be leisure time, with no real acknowledgement of the extra time investment, will have a big impact on a company's employer brand, particularly in regards to employee attraction and retention."

The employer branding research also shows a third of Australian workers intending to switch jobs in the next 6 to 12 months cite work-life balance issues as a factor in their decision. While those staying with their employer cite good work-life balance as the top reason to stay.

"An employer brand determines the quality of the workforce," Ribuot says.

"It drives the level of engagement, motivation and retention of top talent - all factors which are ultimately linked to higher revenues, profit margins and overall returns on investment.

"Organisations capable of attracting the best talent will have an edge over their competition. In fact, organisations with a strong employer brand have 28 per cent lower staff turnover and 84 per cent of people would leave their current job to work for a business with a better reputation, according to Randstad research.

"If your people feel they are working in a culture where work and personal time is respected, you will have satisfied, productive and more engaged employees.

"But if they are regularly working overtime, something which might have become 'the norm', it's time to review why that is, and find solutions to change."

Employers in Australia score strongly for factors like financial health, strong management and training, however still have a long way to go when it comes to good work-life balance.

Ribuot says consider conducting meetings with a range of team members to discuss how the business can become more flexible.

"It's important to remember a one size fits all approach won't work in today's multi-generational workforce," he says.

"Baby boomers approaching retirement age may want the right mix of flexible working conditions.

"Generation X, many of whom are parents, may consider working less hours during school holidays, key to improving their work-life balance.

"Younger generations may be willing to work longer hours in the lead up to taking extended leave or sabbatical."


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