But recession has led to upskilling and "hyper-talented" staff

Working shorter hours or earning a higher wage does not necessarily make people happier with their work-life balance, according to new research.

Only 59 per cent of British employees were content with their work-life balance, with the average working 37 hours 40 minutes a week and earning 505.90, found a survey by recruitment firm Randstad. But 61 per cent of Londoners reported that they were satisfied with their work-life balance, despite working the longest week of 38 hours and 24 minutes. Work-life happiness was higher still in the north-west (63 per cent), which recorded the lowest levels of pay in the UK, at 455.10 per week. Overall, the south-east and Yorkshire and Humberside were the regions with the most content workers at 64 per cent, but with differing pay levels of 536.60 and 434.70 respectively. The survey of 2,000 employees also revealed the professions that were most likely to be satisfied with the split between their work and personal lives. People working in utilities were happiest (94 per cent), followed by employees in the insurance sector (80 per cent), property business (88 per cent) and leisure industry (80 per cent). Meanwhile accountants came bottom of the list (42 per cent), closely followed by staff working in financial services (47 per cent).

Mark Bull, managing director of Randstad UK, said of the findings: "Work-life balance has become something of a national concern in the current economic climate as many people are under increasing pressure in both their professional and personal lives.

"But this research proves that the key to better balance is not simply to work shorter hours or earn more cash. A more holistic approach is needed to find rewarding work that interests and engages us. It's not simply about putting up with anything in return for more money or time."

The survey also revealed a "hidden benefit" of the recession's "destabilising" effect on the nation's overall work-life balance. Randstad said that people embarking on their careers post-2007 were familiar with working in lean teams and often working at a higher level than their job title suggested.

The need to upskill rapidly had created "a new generation of hyper-talented professionals," the recruiter added.

"Accelerated learning in small teams with stretched staff can speed up development, allowing passionate high flyers to shine and improve their promotion prospects," explained Bull.

"A new cohort is emerging in Britain's workforce which, thanks to the financial crisis, has excellent experience albeit perhaps, at the expense of their work-life balance."