Longer hours blamed for rise in levels of dissatisfaction at work

Today’s employees are working longer hours and are less satisfied at work
than they were 10 years ago, according to research by the Economic and Social
Research Council.

The survey of 2,500 employees reveals that only 16 per cent of male
professionals and managers are very or completely happy with the hours they
work compared with 36 per cent who responded to a similar poll in 1992.

Female staff are also dissatisfied at work, with just 29 per cent reporting
that they are content with their working hours compared with more than 50 per
cent in 1992.

Nearly 50 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women surveyed regularly work
additional hours on top of their basic week, with most doing so to meet
deadlines and work pressures.

The research findings mirror those of a major study by the Work Foundation,
published last month, which concluded that staff morale has plunged across the
country over the past decade.

Dr Michael White, who helped produce the ESRC study, said the survey also
reveals low take-up of flexible working, with the proportion of staff that can
set their own working hours increasing from just 17 per cent in 1992 to 22 per
cent in 2000.

White, senior fellow at the Policies Studies Institute, advised employers
that if they want to retain good staff they must address the issue of work-life
balance more effectively.

"Employers have not woken up to the change in staff attitudes. In the
early 1990s there was so much unemployment around that people were just happy
to have a job. Now employees are more questionable and critical. People expect
to spend time with their families," said White.

"There is a lot of good HR-based work happening in organisations but it
is focused on employer issues such as training and development, which is not
top of employees’ agendas. If employers do not address this they will end up
losing top staff."


By Paul Nelson

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