CIPD: ‘Almost half of managers in the UK work an extra day in unpaid overtime every week, according to research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).
Forty seven per cent of employees clocked an additional 7.5 hours or more, with 13 per cent working two days extra on a weekly basis. In a snapshot survey of 1,000 ILM members, 94 per cent admitted to working above and beyond their contracted hours each week, with the majority (65 per cent) reportedly feeling pressure from their organisation to do so.
Worryingly, 44 per cent of managers felt direct pressure from their boss to complete supplementary hours for free.
Excessive workloads appear to be the most common reason for employees working longer, with more than half (53 per cent) the respondents reporting it.
And experts suggest that while advances in technology were billed as an enabler for flexible working, it has “blurred the lines” between normal working practices.
Sixty per cent of under-pressure workers admitted to using their personal phone for work matters and more than eight in 10 (86 per cent) regularly checked their emails on evenings and weekends.
“When you add up all the skipped lunch breaks, early morning conference calls and after hours emails you see just how widespread the extra hours culture is within UK business,” said Charles Elvin, chief executive at the ILM.
“Of course, all organisations face busy periods when employees will feel motivated to work above and beyond their contractual hours. But excessive hours are not sustainable – there are only so many times you can burn the midnight oil before your performance, decision making and well-being begin to suffer,” he added.
Figures reveal that the UK’s so-called “overtime culture” is having a serious effect on employees’ work-life balance – just 13 per cent of workers surveyed said they had a good balance – and research from the Work Foundation found that overwork can lead to underperformance, resulting in employee burnout, and illness.
In 2011, CIPD figures revealed that for the first time, stress was the number one cause of long-term absence from work, with the economic downturn a contributing factor to the increased pressure that all UK workers face.
Dr Jill Miller, CIPD adviser, said it was down to line managers to “spot the early signs of people being under excessive pressure or having difficulty coping at work and to provide appropriate support,” but with the ILM’s findings suggesting many feeling direct pressure from their boss, Elvin suggests a company-wide approach is key.
“It’s so important for organisations to equip staff with the fundamental planning and time management skills they need to cope with their workloads more effectively,” Elvin said.
And when faced with a late night ‘urgent’ email, organisations should provide “some clear guidelines on email etiquette, including when best to send and reply to important messages,” he advised.