work life balance

Which are the jobs with the best work-life balance?

In our latest study we asked 1,360 professionals how they feel about their work-life balance: engineering and IT workers are much happier with their work-life balance compared to other respondents. Location, gender, and seniority level also have a major impact on work-life balance.

Work-life balance by job

Software Development29%52%19%
Sales & Business Development34%42%24%
Programme & Project Management38%34%28%
Executive Management39%41%20%
Financial Control39%40%21%
Human Resources42%45%13%

Engineers & software developers have it figured out: 71% of engineers and software developers consider their work-life balance to be either great or satisfactory. These highly sought-after employees are often able to negotiate perks such as unlimited holidays, flexible hours or days working from home. Not being in a client-facing role, these jobs do not demand set hours at a desk.

Consultants struggle: Consultants are notorious for working long hours, and unsurprisingly are the most unhappy: 49% consider their work-life balance to be awful. At their clients' beck and call, they are rarely in control of their working location and hours.

Zoom in on finance jobs

Finance jobsAwfulSatisfactoryGreat
Fund Management19%43%38%
Risk Management19%46%35%
Sales & Structuring39%31%30%
Middle & Back Office42%42%16%
Origination/ Advisory53%36%11%

Sell-side versus buy-side: An overwhelming 81% of fund managers find their work-life balance either great or satisfactory. Fund managers are clients to sell-side professionals (traders, institutional sales, research analysts working at banks), and therefore able to dictate their own timetables, not bound to be in before clients are and markets open. And while they can usually leave at a reasonable hour as markets close, fund managers can also be somewhat flexible in their working arrangements, being in a less pressurised client-driven environment compared to their sell-side counterparts.

Middle and back office, a rough deal: While only earning a fraction as front office staff, middle and back office professionals are under pressure from traders and salespeople to deliver impeccable outputs in a highly time-sensitive manner. They are more often blamed and rarely congratulated by their front office teams, on top of which they tend to work long hours, tidying up transactions and troubleshoot long after traders have gone home.

M&A and work-life balance do not agree: No surprises there as working weeks can equate to over 100 hours in the office. Hopefully, they find some solace is being some of the best paid professionals in the financial sector.

Work-life balance by country

Hong Kong48%33%19%

La vie est belle: France tops the rankings with 71% of its workers satisfied by their work-life balance. 5 weeks holidays and 35 hours working week go some way to explaining their enthusiasm, though many have forsaken the 35 hour week, and leaving before 7.30pm can be perceived as 'going home early'.

High salaries, high demands: Countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and UAE are at the bottom of the table (56% of UAE workers think their work-life balance is awful). While these locations offer top salaries to expatriate employees, they expect a high commitment in return.

Shall we end the siesta? Despite Spain's unique 2-hours lunch break, employees go home late, often around 8pm, which does not make for a good work-life balance with as much as 55% of professionals considering it to be awful.

Work-life balance by gender


A different kind of gender gap: 9% more women than men think their work-life balance is awful. With more pressure on women to cover for childcare commitments (sickness, school events..), housework and logistics, it is not surprising to see such a gap, as for many pursuing a successful career alongside a fulfilled personal and home life resembles a juggling act.

Work-life balance by years of experience


Poor start, worse ending: 42% of graduates starting their careers believe their work-life balance is awful. As they come to grips with their careers, dissatisfaction decreases to 32%, but frustration later creeps up as more experienced professionals rise through the ranks and the breadth of their responsibilities and work commitments limits the time they can enjoy outside the office.

Live the dream: While the term 'work-life balance' has been touted by large corporations for years, it has finally become a key factor choosing a career. Upcoming generation Y and Z are certainly expecting more flexibility, less face-time, and rather than having to account for half-day annual leave, attending school plays or meetups, expect to be trusted to do the job on their terms. In some industries, implementing such a shift in perception and practice is still a long way off as client demands in terms of reactivity and timeliness remain unchanged. However, employers understand that dissatisfaction with work-life balance is more and more likely to be a reason for quitting, and that higher pay struggles to compensate for time spent away from family and friends.


Emolument provides bonus and salary statistics based on data submitted directly by professionals like you. It is free, anonymous, and already a trusted tool for thousands of professionals worldwide. Are you paid enough? Click here to find out now.

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