Report finds concerns about longer working hours

Managers are working longer hours with 63 per cent of parents worried that their hours are affecting their relationship with their children, according to a report for the Chartered Institute of Management.

The report, Quality of Working Life 2012, found that in 2007, 38 per cent of managers worked two hours per day over contract – by 2012, this had increased to 46 per cent. The average manager worked around 1.5 hours per day over contract, which equates to roughly 46 working days per year.

Managers were concerned about the adverse effects of long hours – 59 per cent were concerned about effects on their stress levels; 56 per cent were concerned about psychological health; and 63 per cent of parents worried that their hours were affecting their relationship with their children.

The report, but Professor Les Worrall and Professor Cary Cooper, found that sickness absence has risen slightly – the average manager had 3.65 days absence from work due to ill health, compared to 3.46 days in 2005, even though there was a marked increase in presenteeism and a significant increase in the proportion of managers who felt that their organisation had a culture of people not taking time off work even when they were ill (from 32 per cent in 2007 to 43 per cent in 2012).

Psychological wellbeing had declined. Forty-two per cent reported suffering from symptoms of stress (up from 35 per cent in 2007) and 18 per cent reported suffering from depression (up from 15 per cent in 2007). Highly motivated managers had higher levels of wellbeing – the highly motivated had taken only 1.3 days absence in the last year compared to 11.3 days for those not motivated at all.

The report found the most prevalent forms of health and policies in organisations were flexible work options (72 per cent), progressive return to work after absence (67 per cent) and counselling (59 per cent). Where benefits were offered, the support most valued were flexible work options (81 per cent), options to get extra holiday/leave (72 per cent), and leave of absences to help work/life balance (72 per cent).

The report says change is the norm in most organisations – 92 per cent of managers had experienced organisational change in the last year. The scale and variety of change was highest in the public sector, with 98 per cent experiencing change. The main reason was cost reduction.

It also found that directors have a much rosier view than other managers – the perceptions of those at the top of the organisation were far more positive than those of junior managers, and this gap has widened since 2007.

Job satisfaction has declined significantly, says the report – dropping from 62 per cent in 2007 to has reduced 55 per cent in 2012. Job satisfaction and many other measures were at their lowest in the public sector.

In addition, managers are losing faith in senior managers – in 2012, only 30 per cent thought senior managers were managing change well, compared with 45 per cent in 2007. The percentage that thought senior managers were committed to promoting employee well being also declined from 55 to 39.

The report found junior managers were the least committed to their organisations – 47 per cent of junior managers said they would leave their present organisation if they could find another job. Motivation and productivity were strongly linked – while 81 per cent of those who felt 100 per cent productive felt motivated, this declined to only 17 per cent of those who felt less than 70 per cent productive.

The study also found that leadership style affects job satisfaction and that the most prevalent management styles in the UK – authoritarian, bureaucratic and reactive – all have negative consequences for managers’ health and well being.

The reports’ authors say: “At a time when cost reduction is a major driver of change in many organisations, it is particularly important for employers to understand the potential benefits of investing in health initiatives in the workplace. There may be a clear business case for health improvement initiatives in order to cut the costs of absence levels, but investment decisions should also be driven by the understanding that improved health and well being can generate significant employee productivity benefits as a result of higher levels of engagement.”

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