Young people in Flanders do not want to work more than 30 hours a week


A recent survey by Flemish media outlet Het Nieuwsblad revealed that 33 per cent of Flemish workers in their twenties are unwilling to work more than 30 hours per week. While this has led to the younger generation being labelled as work-shy, some argue that it improves work-life balance over prior generations.

On Tuesday, the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad unveiled the findings of a survey they had conducted among Flemish workers in their twenties. They aimed to find out what their preferences were in terms of working hours.

The key findings show that the region's youth are less willing to work longer hours than previous generations. For instance, a third of respondents do not desire to work more than 30 hours a week — eight fewer than the Belgian legal working week.

Furthermore, only half of them are willing to work overtime — and only if this means receiving extra pay — with only nine per cent of respondents willing to work over 40 hours a week.

While this may lead some to label the younger generation as 'lazy,' it is instead indicative of a healthier work-life balance, according to Stijn Baert, a labour economics professor at UGent.

To bat these negative perceptions away, Baert explained that, in reality, over half of Flemish workers in their twenties work more than 40 hours per week. Despite this, "this generation now knows that you have to embed your work life into your personal life, rather than the other way around."

This is due to them being aware of the risk of burnout, as another survey recently showed that cases of burnout in Belgium have doubled in the past five years.

Furthermore, Baert indicated that "the previous generations were somewhat encumbered by the idea of hard work, of service and the common good, while the current generation is making more balanced choices."

As a result, he is glad to see that the Flemish youth "is thinking about what makes them happy and letting their work life be a component in that."


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