40-hour week? I think I remember that . . .

Australian workers are more dedicated and ambitious than their American counterparts, according to research conducted by Monster.com.au,.

Libby Christie, managing director of Monster.com.au, the Australian portal of online career site TMP Worldwide, said the results of the survey indicate the lengths to which Australian workers are willing to commit themselves in the quest for career success and profitability.

The survey reveals that 64 per cent of Australian respondents, compared to only 45 per cent of American respondents, would work 80-hour weeks for a few years if there was potential for a large pay-off.

With this, Christie said, the 40 hour week is a thing of the past for most Australian workers.

Peter Gasparovic, general manager IT, Asia Pacific at Chubb Security, who works more than 50 hours a week, agrees with Christie and said 40-hour weeks are definitely a thing of the past -- especially for most IT professionals.

"I don't know about most Australian workers, but certainly for most IT professionals I know it is a thing of the past. I think general workers probably have these set hours but work overtime if they are paid for it, but I know in IT it's not like that," Gasparovic said.

Gasparovic, who -- with a team of 38 IT professionals -- is based in the headquarters of Chubb Security in Sydney's inner-west at Ashfield, said other IT professionals he knows work similar hours.

Gasparpovic said he generally starts work at 7.30am and finishes at 6pm "on a good-to-average day".

"When I walk in the door in the mornings at least half a dozen [colleagues] are already here before their 8:30 starting time. And I'm never the last one to leave, that's for sure!"

The research conducted by TMP Worldwide, parent company of Monster.com.au, indicated that 74 per cent of Australians work an extra five to 10 hours a week compared to two years ago, with 87 per cent receiving no additional pay for the extra hours they work.

Valda Berzins, CIO, Australia Post, works 50 hours a week -- more at certain times - and says she is working no more hours than she was two years ago.

"I have always worked the way I feel is necessary to ensure the job is well done and to get ahead," Berzins said, adding that she is not a workaholic and she focuses on ensuring the job is done.

Echoing Berzins' sentiments, Gasparovic believes he works about the same hours a week as he did two years ago.

"Just going back five years, we got hit by ERP implementations, and I think I worked a lot more then," he said.

He said it was probably two years ago that he stabilised his hours, but before that, it was "quite erratic".

Gasparovic and his IT staff receive no additional pay for extra hours worked. He says it is expected of them.

The "lower levels" of staff at the Australia Post IT department are paid overtime, according to Berzins, but at the "higher level" they are on a straight salary package and says they are required to produce, and are measured on a result.

Generally, people think IT people have it easy, Gasparovic said.

"They think that if it's technology related, everyone with little knowledge about IT thinks it's easy and glamorous; they don't appreciate what really goes on until they come and see what we do."

He said he brings in other departments' staff from within the company to let them sit for a day and see what goes on 'in the life of an IT professional'.

He said they appreciate what people in IT do for them "and the frustration we go through for them - that it's not all glamour".

Gasparovic also places new IT staff on an 'exchange' to other departments so the IT people can appreciate the frustration of the user which he says helps all departments create respect for each other.

Further research conducted by TMP Worldwide found that 50.5 per cent of males and 46.7 per cent of females think that people work longer hours just to get recognition from the boss and not because work loads are excessive.

Berzins says in many cases it does look good, but you must achieve the results.

"Sitting around and sharpening pencils might take a long time, but won't win points with me," she said.

"Generally, people are working longer than they did, say 10 years ago. It's all got to do with working with fewer human resources and keeping costs down to be competitive," Berzins added.

Gasparovic says sometimes it is necessary to stay back to have meetings with staff and discuss upcoming projects, and also to catch up, as they are "flat-out" during the day.

"The day-to-day stresses of the working day means meetings and planning of future projects has to be left until after hours.

"Some people say that if you stay back, there must be something wrong in the way you work or deficiencies in skills for you to need to stay back, but it really comes down to each individual," he said.

For Gasparovic, working back probably wouldn't look good to his boss.

"It might show the commitment on my part -- but impress -- I don't know because he would understand as he would have to too (stay back)," Gasparovic said.

But for his employees, Gasparovic says most of them know how much commitment they have to put in.

"It comes down to commitment, loyalty and job satisfaction; when [employees] are in here early -- like they are -- it probably means they are enjoying it as well," Gasparovic -- who ‘tries' to keep weekends work-free so he can spend time with family - said.

Christie from Monster.com.au, said the fact that Australian employees indicated a greater willingness to undertake longer hours than American employees supports the belief held by many employers that Australians are hard working.

"It is for this reason Australian workers are so sought after by international markets," she said.

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