Compatibility of work and leisure is a difficult issue

Employees working lots of overtime find it hard to reconcile their careers and private lives. But it is also their physical well-being that suffers from working hours in excess of 40 hours per week.

Austrian job holders work much - and (excessively) long hours. This phenomenon was also demonstrated by the current evaluation of the Austrian Working Climate Index. On average, full-time employees work 42 hours per week, a figure that has remained constant for many years. Full-time employees in tourism account for the longest weekly work time (44 hours), followed by transport/communications and construction.

Frequent overtime

Almost half of all employees (47 percent) are occasionally required to work extra hours and 17 percent even frequently.

Kindergarten pedagogues and office workers (without customer contact) are coping best, a fact that can be attributed to the large share of part-time employees in these occupations. The reason is that while extra hours are put in mostly by full-time employees, only nine percent of all part-time employees state that they are frequently required to work extra hours.

Poor work-life balance

In total, over a quarter of all employees accumulates over 40 working hours per week, and every tenth of them even more than 45. This presents a severe challenge to the compatibility of work and leisure as well as for physical fitness and personal well-being. Nearly 40 of all employees frequently working extra time rate their work-life balance as 'medium' or 'poor'. Additionally, atypical arrangements such as shift work or on-call work are detrimental to work-life compatibility as well.

Dissatisfied with working hours

Professional drivers and construction workers, in particular, are especially affected as three quarters of all employees working in these trades put in overtime at least occasionally. Extra hours are common in the catering industry as well. As a consequence, it's hardly surprising that employees working in restaurants, etc. are the least satisfied with their working hours arrangements. On average, satisfaction with working hour arrangements has been declining across all trades, professions and occupational groups for years.

Single mothers are in a particularly difficult spot: only 19 percent of them say that they are successful in reconciling their careers and their family life. It is well known that there is a huge gap between the hours put in by men and those worked by women. It's simply paradoxical that women with children are working fewer hours while fathers even expand their working hours to an amount markedly surpassing 40 hours per week.

Moreover, long working hours put a strain on physical fitness, performance and personal well-being. 39 percent of all employees working fewer than 38.5 hours per week reported that they felt quite well while of those putting in more than 40 hours per week, only 30 percent made that claim.


Employees pessimistic

Optimism regarding Austria's economic development is at an all-time low. Even highly qualified employees have started to worry about their future.

Employees have never seen the economic future of their country in a bleaker light ever since the Working Climate Index was first compiled. While nearly eight of ten respondents were optimistic at the turn of the millennium, this figure has now dropped to 57 percent. At the height of the 2009 and 2010 economic and financial crises, more than 60 percent were still hopeful about their future.

Bankers and teachers confident

At the same time, over 80 percent believe that their own company is progressing towards a bright future. Employees in the banking and education sectors, in particular, stand out due to their conspicuous optimism in this connection. Construction workers, on the other hand, are less confident regarding the future of their companies. Government employees and civil servants, in particular, were sceptical when asked about the way Austria is developing.

Job holders with secondary education diplomas (Matura) were the most optimistic regarding both Austria's economic development and the business prospects of their companies. Persons with apprenticeship diplomas expressed concern about their future - only half of them were optimistic about the economic development of their homeland, in contrast to the 70 percent identified prior to the crisis. Skilled workers, on the other hand, are relatively confident about the companies they work for while employees with only minimum compulsory schooling are the least optimistic about the future of their companies.

University graduates are becoming sceptical

Even a great number of university graduates are worrying about their country's economic future. While as much as three quarters of all university graduates felt optimistic in the previous year, this figure has plummeted by 15 percentage point since last year and is now at a mere 60 percent.

Geographically speaking, employees in Vorarlberg and Tirol are the most optimistic with regard to both the future of their country and their companies. Employees in Burgenland and Carinthia feel pessimistic in that respect while in Vienna, jobholders view their employers' future in a critical light as well.

Working shorter hours

Dr. Johann Kalliauer, President of the Upper Austrian Chamber of Labour

AK-Präsident Dr. Johann Kalliauer
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Representatives of industry and commerce are forever clamouring for longer working hours and more flexibility, a request that is in fact counter-productive. Austria's employed workforce is working too long as it is. Health issues and the difficulties job holders experience when trying to reconcile family life, leisure time and their careers are only one side of the coin. What also must to be taken into consideration is the uncertain situation prevailing on an unstable job market that would be coming under additional pressure by extended work times. The facts are clear: we need shorter, no longer working hours - with no loss of pay, that goes without saying. Furthermore, employees want fixed working hours instead of shifts or rotation. We need a better and fairer distribution of both work and working hours. Only this approach can create jobs, lower record unemployment and ensure a higher quality of life, satisfaction and ultimately healthier and more motivated employees.


Satisfaction hinges on income and life situation

The fact that two thirds of all employees are satisfied with their social security masks vast differences between individual occupation and income groups

Two thirds of all employees are satisfied with their social security. However, this figure should not disguise the fact that there are serious disparities between some groups. Only 56 percent of all blue-collar workers, for example, are content with the degree of their social security; for migrants, this figure is 51 percent while only half of all low-skilled employees feel satisfied in that respect. Low-income groups who find themselves in precarious conditions or situations bordering on poverty are particularly dependent on comprehensive social security. It is exactly these groups, however, that feel most dissatisfied with their social security situation.

Insecure Jobs

There are also major differences in job security ratings: while only half of all employees (a decrease by nine percentage points when compared to the situation three years previously) believe that jobs are generally still secure in Austria, 84 percent continue think that their own jobs are very or even highly secure. Employees in the construction industry, in tourism and now also more and more employees in the services sector, however, consider their jobs at risk while rating their own prospects on the job market as less favourable.

Worrying about your job can make you sick

Job security is a health factor: people who think that their jobs are at risk are more prone to health issues such as sleep disorders, nervousness and gastric complaints. Additionally, muscle tenseness, back pain, headaches as well as exhaustion are more common in persons fearing about their jobs. In the last six months, 46 percent of all persons with job worries have gone to work despite being ill. For employees feeling secure about their jobs, this figure was only 32 percent.


In discussions on economic and socio-political issues, the views of the employed workforce are often disregarded, a fact that can also be attributed to a perceived lack of solid data. The Austrian Working Climate Index, however, has been supplying exactly those data for 18 years now and has thus become a yardstick for economic and social change from an employee perspective. It investigates the views of employees regarding society at large, companies, work and expectations in general. The Working Climate Index gauges the subjective dimension, expanding our knowledge in relation to economic trends and their consequences for society.

The Working Climate Index is calculated based on quarterly surveys of Austrian employees. A representative sample of 4,000 respondents is chosen each year, allowing relevant conclusions regarding the situation and overall conditions of all employees. The Working Climate Index has been compiled twice annually since spring 1997. Supplementary special assessments are conducted as well.

Data online

You can find current results as well as background information at ooe.arbeiterkammer.at/arbeitsklima. This section of our website not only gives you access to an extensive working climate database for evaluation purposes but also allows you to calculate your personal job satisfaction index for your own place of employment in just a couple of minutes. Additionally, there is an online monitor for executive personnel providing information on the job satisfaction of Austrian managers.


Male domain with satisfied employees

96 percent of car mechanics are men. They feel positive about their opportunities for advancement and their prospects on the job market and expressed satisfaction with their income.

According to the apprentice statistics compiled by the Austrian Chamber of commerce, automotive engineering continues to be one of the three most popular apprentice trades for boys in Austria, with every tenth male apprentice becoming a car mechanic. It his hardly surprising, therefore, that 96 percent of all car mechanics are male and that 83 percent of all surveyed car mechanics have an apprenticeship diploma.

Only 3 percent ever out of work

The Working Climate Index of car mechanics amounts to 109 points, i.e. two points above average figures across all industries, trades and professions over the last five years. 58 percent feel satisfied with their opportunities for advancement and further development (other occupations: 52 percent) while 63 percent claim that it would be easy for them to find acceptable employment if they ever lost their job - 17 percent more than those working in other occupational segments. However, a mere three percent of all mechanics were out of work in the last twelve months anyway while 17 percent of the total workforce were affected by unemployment during the same period at one time or another.

Two thirds of all car mechanics are satisfied with their income, compared to the overall trade & industry average reaching barely 60 percent. Only two percent of all mechanics claimed that they were unable to make ends meet with what they are earning.

Strenuous work but few offers

Although mechanics have become more content with their job, the image of their occupation and their lives overall, we must not forget that the work of a mechanic or automotive technician also involves considerable physical strain. Car repair shops filled with noise, heat and cold, dust and chemical substances, in particular, can be hazardous to health. Nearly a quarter of all mechanics feels stressed by poor health conditions in the workplace, 11 percent more than the average number across all trades. 18 percent feel stressed by the risk of accidents or injuries.

Despite of these facts, there are hardly any health-promoting offers for car mechanics: three quarters of the employees working in this trade do not have access to programs designed to preserve their health. Small wonder, therefore, that 60 percent of all car mechanics are younger than 36 years of age and that 39 percent of car mechanics say that it is improbable that they will continue working in this trade until reaching retirement age. Nevertheless: only five percent of them would like to switch careers altogether, which is less than half of the number determined for the entire employed workforce.



Upper Austrian Chamber of Employees
E-MAIL: online@akooe.at

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