New Poll On Issues Of Work And Leisure From Ipsos-Reid

Labor Day Views: Making Leisure Time Work

New Poll On Issues Of Work And Leisure From Ipsos-Reid

Washington, DC - Overall job satisfaction among American workers remains high, as has been consistently true for decades, but increasingly the invasion of work into leisure time is causing people stress, a survey of Americans conducted last weekend by Ipsos-Reid found. Moreover, workers indicate that all the obligations and chores they face--personal and work-related--are making leisure time less enjoyable.

"The strongest determinant of stress is the invasion of work and the multiplication of chores in leisure time. Stress is an issue of failed leisure time, more than just a workplace issue. Americans need to find a way to make leisure time work for them, in order to reduce stress", reports Thomas Riehle, President of Ipsos-Reid US Public Affairs.

For many Americans, leisure time is not working. Overall, 52% of all Americans (and 62% of workers) say they have more chores and obligations in their leisure time, making leisure time less relaxing and enjoyable. On the flip side, 44% of all Americans (but only 35% of workers) say they have more leisure time than they used to, making leisure time more relaxing and enjoyable.

Among those who say they feel seriously stressed frequently (a couple of times a week or more), 69% say they have more chores and obligations, making leisure time less enjoyable. By contrast, among those who seldom or never feel stressed, 68% say they have more leisure time, making leisure time more enjoyable. "Addressing worker dissatisfaction will increasingly be an issue of allowing workers time off that is really time off from work, with no workplace obligations distracting from the enjoyment of leisure time", Riehle said.



More than once a week%

Weekly/Couple of times a week%


All Workers%

I have more chores and obligations in my leisure time, making leisure time less relaxing and enjoyable






I have more leisure time than I used to, making my leisure time more relaxing and enjoyable






Some of both (VOL)






Neither/DK (VOL)






Results based on a poll of 1,000 adults nationwide, conducted by telephone August 24-26, 2001. The poll is based on a randomly selected sample of 1000 U.S. adults, including 629 workers. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within 177 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire U.S. adult population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual U.S. adult population according to the most recent Census data.

Other findings from the poll:

The barrier between work and leisure continues to erode. Some 43% say they spend time in their off-hours dealing with work issues or on call to deal with work issues. On the other hand, 30% confess to spending time at work using the Internet or email to handle personal matters.

Technology is helping to resolve the problems created by the invasion of work into leisure time. Technologies such as cell phones, the Internet, and other devices make leisure time more enjoyable for 52% of all Americans, including 66% of Americans under the age of 35. Only 26% of all Americans say these new technologies cut into their leisure time, although 33% of Americans aged 35-54 say they do.

Technology seems to be working the way it's supposed to in the workplace: 59% of current workers say technological devices make them more productive at work. Those who are facing the issue of the dissolving barrier between work and leisure most literally are also the most likely to embrace new technologies to help resolve those issues. Thus, 65% of those who are often dealing with work issues in their off-hours say new technologies make them more productive at work, as do 68% of those who do a significant amount of work from home. Among those who say they use technologies such as the Internet and email to take care of personal issues during work hours, 73% say these new technologies make them more productive at work.

Productivity gains at work from new technologies primarily stem from higher-income workers. Overall, 59% of all workers say the technologies improve their productivity, including 67% of those earning $50,000 a year or more, 57% of those earning $25,000 to $50,000, and 50% of those earning less than $25,000 a year. "The boss still gets the best laptop", Riehle commented.

Overall, 88% of all workers are satisfied with their jobs, including 56% who are very satisfied. "That level of job satisfaction, with half or more intensely satisfied, has been consistent among American workers for more than a generation. The number "very satisfied" with their jobs is up marginally from an Ipsos-Reid survey conducted in the summer of 2000. Job satisfaction remains high because work is important to Americans, and if they are dissatisfied with their jobs, they tend to do something about it rather than remain dissatisfied", Riehle said, noting that 26% of workers in this survey say they are seriously considering changing jobs in the next year.

Today, 33% of American workers are "definitely confident" about the decisions made by the management of their organization, down slightly from 41% a year ago in the US. "Declining confidence in management's decision-making is predictable and understandable at a time of increasing layoffs and management's confession that it has no vision or visibility about the direction of profits", said Riehle.

"Workers' eroding confidence in the management of their organizations is significant because confidence in management, along with pay and sense of accomplishment, are the critical factors contributing to worker satisfaction, as Ipsos-Reid learned last year in a study of workers in 39 countries, including the US. A decline in the degree of confidence in management could be an early warning sign of growing job dissatisfaction."

For more information please contact: Thom Riehle President Ipsos-Reid U.S. Public Affairs 202.463.7300

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