Why is work life balance important in the 24/7 tourism industry?

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Autumn 2019

Are you one of the 3.5 million people that currently work in the UK tourism industry?

Is finding a healthy work-life balance something that you are struggling with?

If the answer is YES, you have come to the right place!

What’s work life balance about?

This is how Hilton employees manage their work life balance
Source: Hilton channel/youtube

Since 2010, tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the UK in employment terms (visit Britain).

This means that more and more of us are now choosing to work in the UK tourism industry and many of the jobs can include long and anti-social hours (there is nothing more heart-breaking than having to work late on a Saturday night while the rest of our friends are out partying!)

These long anti-social hours can be damaging and draining for us and increases the risk of developing or worsening existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress, as well as affecting our social life and sleeping pattern.

The tourism industry is different from any other industry because it operates 24/7 365 days a year.

Somebody wants to check into a hotel on Christmas Day? We will be there to do that, missing out on precious time with our family.

Work life balance is the idea that you have time for both work and other aspects of your life. Finding and maintaining this is essential so that you avoide spending too much time at work, when productivity can fall, and personal relationships can become strained.

A Mental Health Foundation survey shockingly reported that one third of respondents felt unhappy or very unhappy about the time they devote to work and more than 40% of employees were neglecting other aspects of their life because of work – these are worrying statistics!

Balance is Key!

Just a few weeks ago, shadow chancellor John McDonnell announced that a Labour government would aim to shift the UK towards a 32-hour working week within the next ten years, saying the move should happen without any loss of pay for workers.

sources: Pixabay.com

McDonald stated that “We should work to live, not live to work”.

This proposal could really be the start of something new if it could work for the tourism industry! However, it did not come out of nowhere. Work -life balance has been a topic on both employers and employees’ minds for the last 20-30 years and is yet to lose its buzz.

Did you know that….?

Britain’s long hours culture is nothing to be proud of (Trades Union Congress, 2019). Britons are putting in the longest hours in the EU, with an average of 42.5 hours a week, putting them above the European average of 41.2. Meanwhile, Denmark has 37 hours, followed by countries such as Holland, Italy, Belgium, France, Sweden and Ireland which have 39.0 hours.

Better work life balance is critically needed in the UK as workers already put in more than £32 billion worth of unpaid overtime last year. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) warns that employers must not steal their workers time as many of us are willing to put in a few extra hours when it’s needed, but too many employers are starting to take advantage.


A reduction of working time for all of us in the tourism industry will not be easy but the 32 working hour proposal can possibly change our lives for the better!

Steps for you to follow:

The Labour proposal may take up to 10 years to implement (if they get elected!) so it is important that we take control ourselves and take tiny steps each day.

Here are some helpful little steps for you to start your journey so that you may achieve a better work life balance:

  • Learn to say NO– If you are finding your workload too demanding, avoid taking overtime.
  • Time-management– You need to recognize that time and life are limited, especially spending time with your family, so make sure you make the best use of your time, instead of working long hours.
  • Flexible work- Try to get a greater flexible schedule to fit into your lifestyle.
  • Prioritise – “Work smart, not long”! Set yourself limited periods of time for a specific piece of work and remember to take your annual leave.
  • Separate work from home life – Do not let relationships with friends and family suffer because of long hours. Try your hardest to spend at least one day of the weekend free with friends and family.
  • Get advice – Talk to your colleagues about their work/life balance and find out how they are managing it effectively.
  • Self management– Make sure you are looking after yourself by having proper sleep, nutrition and exercise. You are the only person in charge of yourself.

What steps are you going to take?

These steps may not change your work life balance instantly, however small steps can make a big difference.

source: pxhere.com

Let us know if you think you currently have a good work life balance in the comment section below!


Shauna says:

I think this is an amazing topic to write a blog on as it’s something so important in today’s society. I’m glad you mentioned that the events industry is 24/7 with people having to work Christmas Day. But I believe even during the regular weeks it’s a 24/7 industry as the majority of events take place in the evening or on a weekend meaning it is slightly difficult to maintain that work life balance when working in the events industry. However I really hope that managers read this well presented blog and aim to try and help their employees particularly with the number of people with mental health illnesses increasing.

Work Life Balance in Tourism Industry says:

Hi Shauna, thankyou for taking the time to read our blog. We wanted to raise awareness of just how important work-life balance can be as both the tourism industry and events industry are very dynamic and operate 24/7 unlike a normal 9-5 job in an office. We are aware that events such as concerts are usually held at night or on a weekend so it may be hard for employees in the event industry to spend time with their family and friends outside of work due to the anti-social working hours. We hope that the Labour proposal will come into effect within the next 10 years so that both tourism and event employees can work less hours without loosing any pay!

Gerald Robinson says:

Hi I’m here to talk about my job and how that affects time spent with family and friends. I’m a Skycap at Tampa International Airport. Some people think since you work at the airport you get really long hours and you barely get time to do anything else. That’s wrong. I work up to 6-8hr shifts with maximum 2 days off but sometimes getting one day off meaning sometimes I work 6 days in one week. 12pm to 6pm and 12pm to 8pm if your wondering. So I have more than enough time to for example run errands in the morning before I head to work and hang out with friends or family after work. Sometimes I do get overtime but its not enough where it’s too demanding

Work Life Balance in Tourism Industry says:

Hi Gerald, thankyou for replying to our blog, we hope you found it interesting and informative as you currently work in the tourism industry! We are glad to hear that you feel you are currently maintaining a healthy work-life balance while working at the airport. You are lucky that you work 12-8pm most days and not anti-social hours e.g. 5am-1pm as the tourism industry is notorious for anti-social working hours. Working 12-8pm still gives you time to see friends and family after work or do something at leisure which is key for a healthy work-life balance! Please let other employees at the airport know about our blog if you feel they are suffering from an unhealthy work-life balance as we are here to help!

Brian Coleman says:

I actually really enjoyed reading this blog. It present a very important issue within our society at the moment. Few years ago I used to work as a bartender in a four star hotel and December by far used to be the busiest month of the year. Fourteen hours shifts and a lot of nights without sleep due to events such as: Christmas Parties, Weddings or New Year Parties used to be my daily routine during this month. I believe that more managers within Hotel/Resort/Tourism areas should read this types of blogs and learn something from it.

Work Life Balance in Tourism Industry says:

Hi Brian
Thank you for your reply. We are glad that you really enjoyed reading the blog. What you have said, it is so true as hospitality or tourism industry can be so demanding and sometimes employees feel exhausted because of the long hours. The worklife balance is so important in our lives and unfortunately in most of the cases, managers do not understand that all of us have other arrangements as well. It would be really helpful if they will reduce the hours, but this will take a long time. However, it is never too late for a change. Hopefully our voices will be heard.

Aaron says:

Good article, I can relate on this topic, especially during my internship at a travel agency in the UK, I felt so exhausted at some point, so I had to find a solution to feel better. Working out and having some time for yourself by making small trips for example worked well for me. Don’t forget about eating well, have a proper breakfast and at least 8hrs of sleep. It still need improvements at some work places, especially at my internship place.

Work Life Balance in Tourism Industry says:

Hi Aaron
Thank you for spending time reading our blog. We are sorry to hear that you experienced already this problem.
Unfortunately, the work place can be too demanding and we feel very often exhausted because of that. We are really glad that you took already some steps for achieving a better work life. It is very important to be aware of the importance of our work life balance. Hope this blog suggested you more tips for getting a better work life balance.

Monika Tulit says:

This blog made me think about my own life! It covers very well the problem affecting many people’s today.
Thankyou for bringing this subject to light.

Work Life Balance in Tourism Industry says:

Hi Monika, Thank you for replying to our blog. We are glad to hear that this blog makes you think about your personal work life balance.
We think so many people in our days work too many hours on a daily basis and this may have a negative impact on their health or social life.
We hope you use our little steps to guide you to through your current work life balance and help us to share the light to your colleagues at work.
If you feel they are unhappy about their work life balance, just please tell everyone we are here to help!

Bibiana says:

Although hoteliers and the tourism sector is expected to cater the needs of all their guests, people who workd in the industry also need a chance to have a break and spend time on things important to them. Otherwise it can leads to stress and they can’t perform to the best of their abilities.

Work Life Balance in Tourism Industry says:

Hi Bibiana, thank you so much for reading our blog. We all know how difficult is to find the perfect balance between work and taking the time to rest, as the insdutry operate 24/7. More and more customers have high expectation and demands which is a normal thing because as we all know the customer is always right. However, taking some time off work can really help to boost self-development which everyone need in moden days. Therefore, take a small step, even by talking with a colleague about their work life balance can help to make that first step. We hope the little steps we provided can help you to the take the right decisions in order to achieve the right balance in your life.

Andrea Vasconcelos says:

I believe that if we wait on politicians to make a change, this will never come into place. We – the voters and the population victims of these systems who only benefit those making profit – have to make a change ourselves. Or, conscious employers as change is led by example.

I suggest for example, that whenever a workplace has a suggestion box, you stop to fill this in anonymously, suggesting flexible hours or shorter shifts and more shift swaps, for example.

An additional suggestion is to proactively recommend these to your colleagues and managers/bosses. Maybe write a petition and entice your colleagues to help the workforce start an industry revolution.

As customers spending our money during leisure time, we also want to be served – WELL served. Submitting your employees to not so favourable working conditions only because the industry allows it, will only impact on the quality of the service and the subsequent domino effect this has in productivity, customer satisfaction and profit for the company.

As Bibiana mentioned a few comments above, workers of this industry should also be able to enjoy their leisure time and not feel excluded having to party out of the “fun season”/ summer time/ weekends, for instance.

Reducing full time shifts to 32hrs might be seen as a monetary loss to employers, however, this can be complemented with over-hours for those who really want more working time or even by hiring few more employees.

Perhaps splitting the shifts.


Office job context

09:00-13:00 one person then 13:00-17:00 another person


Work 09:00-17:00 4 times a week then, off 3 days

Although the minority of the world/companies do provide enticing working conditions, the majority still practices longer shifts under the excuse of labour regulations that permits it.

The line of thought of employers are

“If I give my employees shorter shifts with same pay, they will want more and more, and it becomes a vicious cycle.”

“Why complain about 37+hrs weekly working hours if this is standard across most countries?” – the work force is spoilt.”

The reality is that the ‘ideal state’ already lives in peoples’ minds – they already aware of better conditions, of people working less hours and earning same or more, therefore, they want to pursue this “dream” and they will not be satisfied until they achieve it.

“We should work to live, not live to work”.- this really resonates in me. As I say, “ We are prisoners (workers) so we have the financial liberty to be free”.

Humans are constantly fight for freedom: learning languages, forms of art, skills, all to be independent and be free to express and live.

Food for thought.

Thank you for this very contemporary issue we are having to deal with in addition to later or no retirement than previous generations.

Good luck!

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