This year's Building/Hays Montrose careers survey finds a workforce eager to escape the shackles of nine-to-five employment to find a more flexible lifestyle.
Flexible working hours and getting the right work–life balance are a high priority for workers in many UK industries, not least construction. So it's no surprise that in this year's Building/Hays Montrose careers survey, quality of life emerges as a big issue.

A long-hours culture still pervades the construction industry. The survey revealed that 30% of respondents work 10 or more hours a day and that 63% of those surveyed spent more than eight hours a day in the workplace. The average was 8.9 hours a day.

Most respondents to the survey were well aware of their rights when it comes to changing their work patterns – nearly two-thirds of them knew about the government's new provisions for flexible working – yet many were struggling to get their bosses' agreement. Just 24% of respondents said their companies were implementing the changes.

The perception is that this inflexibility towards working hours is having a negative effect on business. Many people strongly felt that flexible working hours would contribute positively to business performance.

Cash in hand
Money is, not surprisingly, considered by most respondents to be the main compensation for inflexible working hours in their current job. They rated salary as most significant factor, rating basic pay at an average of 8.7 out of 10 in terms of importance.

They also prioritise benefits such as healthcare and pension (rated an average 7.3 out of 10) as key factors in choosing to stay in their current job. However, many are aware that long-hours are incompatible with a healthy lifestyle.

Many people said employers' failure to adapt to a decent work–life balance was their biggest concern about the industry – the average level of concern was rated as 7.8 out of 10.

Pastures new
So what would convince employees to look for another job? Once again, according to the survey, work–life balance is high on the agenda. More money is a primary motivation, scoring 7.8 out of 10, but reduced stress and a better work–life balance come a close second with a rating of 7.6 out of 10.

Linked to work–life balance is the problem of too much travel. Respondents ranked their workplace's location in relation to their home as one of their biggest considerations, with an average importance of 7.5 out of 10.

The survey revealed that 30% of those questioned work 10 or more hours a day

Management difficulties were cited as another key reason for leaving a company, scoring an average of 7.6, although a minority were not bothered by the issue and gave it a low rating.

When choosing a new job, the baseline salary and company pension scheme were considered important attractions, scoring 8.9 and 7.1 out of 10, respectively. Profit sharing and bonus schemes were also an influencing factor for many people (ranked 6.72 out of 10), although perks such as sports club membership were broadly dismissed (2.9 out of 10) by all but a few respondents.

Similarly, most people were unmoved by the opportunity to work abroad, with survey respondents rating it as the least important factor when choosing a new job (2.6 out of 10). Again, however, there was a small minority of globe-trotters who rated this as their most important factor.

Causes for concern
The focus on finding a better quality of life may be playing a large part in fuelling the much-vaunted skills shortage – still a big concern for our respondents. They said it was their biggest worry about the industry (ranked 7.2 out of 10) after work–life balance. There was also concern about the low intake of students to the industry, with a ranking of 7.1 out of 10.

But is the government seen to be doing enough to help? Apart from introducing family-friendly rules on flexible working hours, most respondents felt the government was not doing enough for construction. Their efforts were awarded a paltry 4.4 out of 10 on average, with nobody rating their performance higher than 8.

Another grievance aired by some of those in the survey was their bosses' salaries, although there was a strong split among respondents over this. Some believed boardroom pay was far too high, others did not see it as a problem (average 6.3 out of 10).

Respondents seemed to be sitting on the fence when asked about another thorny issue – whether PFI schemes had on the whole been a success. Very few people were strongly supportive, most people sticking to the middle ground (5.2 out of 10).

Building/Hays Montrose careers survey results

Are you a workaholic?
86% of the respondents were male, 14% female.
They'd spent an average of 4.3 years in their current job.
On average they worked 8.9 hours a day, with answers ranging from seven to 11 hours. To the left you will find tables containing the results of the Building/Hays Montrose careers survey