The union survey, which took in the views of more than 2800 Australian workers, found more than half reported that they often had too much work for one person to manage.
A third said their supervisors expected them to put work ahead of personal life, and 75 per cent said they would be happy to take a pay cut to work fewer hours.
The study was funded by the Australian Research Council and the South Australian, WA and Victorian Governments.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the study confirmed a worrying rise in "work intensification" - the feeling that work was becoming harder and less compatible with everyday life.
"The feeling of being stressed from managing long hours of work and the intensification of work, and balancing home and community life, is increasing," the Australian quoted Burrow, as saying.
"The figures show overwhelmingly that people want to work less but are unable through either their capacity to meet bills - price pressures - or indeed the choices available at work," she added.
The survey found women ideally wanted to work 35 hours a week, which is three hours short of the norm.
It also found men preferred to work 38 hours a week, but almost one in three were working 48 hours or more.
The deterioration of the work-life balance was more pronounced at the bottom and top of the pay scale with those earning less than 30,000 Australian dollars a year or more than 90,000 Australian dollars complaining of feeling more work-related pressures.
The survey was conducted during March and April.
Burrow also said that while many people wanted to work less, the rising cost of living meant this often was impossible.
"There's no doubt that both partners in family households are working longer hours, feeling stressed that they have got more cost pressures, but also that they have less time," she said.
"Working people are working more and longer hours, and it is eating their lives in terms of a work-family or work-life balance," she added.