Bosses warned over long hours

Balancing work and home life is already emerging as a big issue for 2000, according to separate UK studies published in the early...

Balancing work and home life is already emerging as a big issue for 2000, according to separate UK studies published in the early days of the new year.

Employers have been warned by the Industrial Society that this must be seen as an issue for all staff and is crucial to retention and productivity.

The society's Work-Life Manual, launched by chief executive Will Hutton with the Work-Life Research Centre, says balancing work and home risks being seen as something only for a needy few.

It rejects terms such as "family-friendly", believing this gives the impression that such terms only concern women with young children.

"It is not a fringe issue," Hutton says. "It affects productivity, because staff cannot perform to their best if tired or over worried about domestic concerns."

Lucy Daniels, co-author of the report, says, "The long-hours culture is alive and kicking, fuelled by competition and fear. Talk of family-friendly policies too often turns out to be more rhetoric than reality, with few people daring to take up the option for fear of what it will do to their prospects."

Long hours bring mixed results, says Brian Faragher of Manchester University. His latest research shows that people who volunteerto work longer hours are often less stressed than others - but the benefit is offset by more physical complaints.

However, his report warns against a long-hours culture: staff who feel coerced into working overtime suffer far greater stress and physical problems and are negative about their employer.

This was last published in January 2000

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