Long hours are a pleasure not a burden, say managers

2006

Britain's managers work such long hours not because they have someone standing over them cracking the whip, but because they simply enjoy their work, according to new research.

British managers consistently work the longest hours in Europe and while it is no secret that this is partly down to heavy workloads, it also appears that increasingly senior managers work long hours because they want to, said the Roffey Park study.

Six out of 10 of the 967 middle and senior managers said their hours were related to the fact that they enjoyed they work.

They also, surprisingly, reported lower stress levels and a more satisfactory work-life balance.

More than eight out of 10 of those polled said they worked consistently longer than their contracted working week.

Of these, nearly a quarter of men and eight per cent of women said they worked an additional 15 hours per week.

Aside from the enjoyment factor, the reasons given for working longer hours than contracted include having a heavy workload (65 per cent), needing to work long hours to be successful (26 per cent), being expected to by senior managers (12 per cent) and doing so simply because others did (6 per cent).

The number of people reporting to be stressed as a result of their work is decreasing

In addition to finding that managers enjoyed their work, the report also found that the number of people reporting to be stressed as a result of their work is, while still high, for the first time in recent years, decreasing.

In 2006, two-thirds claimed to have experienced stress compared with 78 per cent in 2005, 74 per cent in 2004 and 70 per cent in 2003.

The figure was higher for those working in the public sector (72 per cent) than other sectors.

Not only was stress on the decline, there was also a shift in commitment to a work-life balance, the survey found.

This year, for the first time, a majority of respondents (57 per cent) said that their senior managers were committed to achieving a work-life balance.

This compared with 33 per cent reported in the 2005 survey.

The number of senior managers and leaders practising what they preached when it came to work-life balance had increased by nearly half, from 22 per cent in 2005 to 32 per cent this year.

Women were more likely to have different perceptions of work-life balance – 69 per cent of women felt senior managers were more committed to achieving a work-life balance compared with just 48 per cent of men.

The research also found managers displaying organisational loyalty, with 82 per cent feeling quite or very committed to their organisation, and 57 per cent saying they were prepared to go the extra mile to get things done.

Nearly seven out of 10 said they also believed their organisations were committed to them in return.

Dr Valerie Garrow, principal researcher at Roffey Park and co-author of the study, said: "Managers continue to work long hours, but many say they do so because, as well as dealing with heavy workloads, they enjoy their job.

"People are clearly motivated by making a difference and having a sense of achievement in the workplace and they are prepared to go the extra mile to get the job done," she added.