Māori top test for work-life balance

6:16 pm on 16 September 2015

New research from Massey University has found Māori score the highest for work-life balance and life satisfaction when compared with seven other cultures, including Pākehā.

Massey University professor Jarrod Haar

Cultures that favour 'collectivism' have certain advantages over 'individualistic' cultures, Massey University professor Jarrod Haar says. Photo: SUPPLIED

Researchers surveyed 1416 employees from Malaysian, Chinese, Māori, Pākehā, Spanish, French and Italian backgrounds.

Sixty-seven percent of Māori respondents rated their work-life balance as above average, while only 58 percent of Pākehā felt the same way.

When it came to life satisfaction, the gap was even wider - 81 percent of Māori rated their life satisfaction as above average, compared to only 59 percent of Pākehā.

The report's lead author, Jarrod Haar, of Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Mahuta, said the cultures fell into two groups: those that were individualistic and those that were more collectivist, such as Māori and Chinese.

Dr Haar said that while the survey respondents did not represent all Māori, it did show that culture plays a role in the way people assess their own sense of wellbeing.

"Collectivism from a Māori perspective is about the 'we' and the connections," he said.

"But the individualistic - and in our sample here we're looking at the New Zealand European - is about the individual, it's the 'I' and it's that selfish orientation, where you're more interested in just yourself and maybe your partner and children, but not the wider whānau connection that we might find amongst Māori."

In a comparison of Māori and Pākehā wellbeing, the research showed that Māori workers in similar professional roles consistently felt more satisfied with their lot.

Dr Haar said if a person's world view was not all about their own personal wellbeing, then they were more likely to feel happy with their work-life balance, even if they were not actually working less hours.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs