Work worries giving bosses sleepless nights

Jun 15 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Anxiety about job prospects, staff performance and the increasingly demanding performance targets they are subject to is leading to a wave of uncertainty and sleepless nights for the UK's business leaders.

A quarter of the UK's senior business leaders faces one night without sleep every week as pressure and stress trap the country's business elite into a cycle of poor decision making, missed deadlines and management problems, according to a report by consultants Capgemini.

The Red Eye Report, based on a survey of 200 senior executives, found that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) have been kept awake worrying about their career or future.

This equates to Britain's business leaders losing 7,052,100 nights' sleep every year through work worries

More than a third admitted that if they could start all over again, they would choose an entirely different career

So bad is this anxiety that more than a third (35 per cent) admitted that if they could start all over again, they would choose an entirely different career.

Half of executives (55 per cent) agree that lack of sleep has a serious impact on their abilities at work, with decision-making one of the key 'business brain' faculties to suffer through lack of sleep.

Forty five per cent of respondents agreed their decision-making ability was seriously hampered by lack of sleep, whilst a staggering one in five (18 per cent) admitted it had caused them to make a decision with serious repercussions for the business.

The biggest issues playing on the minds of those surveyed were overwhelmingly internal management issues such as 'change/strategy', 'time and workload management' and 'project issues', rather than external factors such as the 'economy' or 'legislation'.

But the biggest single factor causing sleepless nights is 'staff performance or shortage', something identified by seven out of 10 respondents as a current threat to their business.

"In order for a UK business to succeed in a global market, where production and labour costs are often cheaper overseas, it needs to distinguish itself through innovation, creativity and intelligent business practice, said Ian Jordan, Capgemini UK and Ireland's Head of Consulting Services.

"But in the existing long-hours, high-stress culture of British business, it's clear that senior executives spend most of their time grappling with company politics, staffing issues and poor organisation, to the extent which they find themselves unable to operate effectively."

The research also examined attitudes to a range of economical, social, international and work/pay issues in order to uncover current 'bÍtes noirs'.

Unsurprisingly, it is clear that UK business is very much opposed to increased regulation and compliance, is in favour of increased global trade with markets such as India and China and is opposed to government interference on work/life balance issues.

The government's plans to pass legislation on family-friendly working was seen as a bad thing by a third of respondents, with only one in five actively in favour of the changes.

But flexible and home working received a general thumbs-up, with more than half (55 per cent) of respondents seeing it as a good thing and a mere four per cent stuck in the traditional office mentality.

According to Ian Jordan, however, the key to addressing executive red-eye is a change in working style and organisational structure.

"To create the 'head space' their senior managers require, UK companies need to address internal structures and cut through the levels of complexity," he said.

"This can be done by focusing on leadership development, managing change in a proactive way, and by addressing the technology systems and processes used to manage information through the organisation."