Business decline hits health of UK managers
UK managers are working longer hours in more stressful conditions to cope with the recession, with serious effects on their physical and mental health, according to a new report comparing the wellbeing of managers in 2012 with those in 2007.
The Chartered Management Institute/Simplyhealth report, The Quality of Working Life 2012, surveyed over 1,300 managers in 2007 and 2012 and paints a bleak picture of the impact of the recession on UK workplaces. Workers report having no choice but to work overtime and mental and physical wellbeing has declined for 12 of 13 key health indicators. Levels of stress, insomnia, feeling unable to cope and depression have all risen over the five-year period, while the majority of parents surveyed (63 per cent) are worried working long hours is damaging relationships with their children.
The average manager now works around 46 days unpaid overtime per year - working back more than one and half times the average annual leave entitlement, and up from 40 days in the 2007 study. Some 60 per cent of those working overtime feel they had no choice because of the volume of work, and 29 per cent worked long hours because job cuts had increased their workload. Managers are concerned about the adverse effects of these long hours, with 59 per cent worried about the impact on their stress levels and 54 per cent feeling they had a negative effect on their physical health.
Although 42 per cent of managers reported being in 'good' health, a substantially higher percentage of managers reported that their health had got worse in the last three months (28 per cent) than reported that their health had got better (6 per cent). Many of them displayed symptoms of stress or anxiety, with 61 per cent of managers suffering from constant tiredness (up from 58 per cent in 2007); 60 per cent suffering from insomnia or sleep loss (up from 55 per cent); 45 per cent feeling or becoming angry with other people too easily (up from 41 per cent); 33 per cent avoiding contact with other people (up from 25 per cent); and 30 per cent feeling unable to cope (up from 25 per cent).
Other key findings include:
Some 42 per cent of managers reported suffering from symptoms of stress in 2012 (up from 35 per cent in 2007) and 18 per cent reported suffering from depression (up from 15 per cent). The likelihood of managers reporting ill health increased on 12 of the report's 13 measures.
There is less tolerance to taking time off sick, with a significant increase in the proportion of managers who felt that their organisation had a culture of people not taking time off work, even when they were ill (from 32 per cent in 2007 to 43 per cent in 2012).
'Presenteeism' is also on the rise - 43 per cent believe people didn't take sick leave even though they were ill, a marked increase from 32 per cent in 2007
Where 22 per cent of managers reported having viral infections, 57 per cent still went to work - a rise of 15 percentage points on 2007 figures. Only one in seven of the managers who reported symptoms of depression took any time off.
35 per cent of managers describing themselves as having "too much work to do" and feeling "overloaded".
36 per cent of the managers surveyed would leave if they thought they could find another job.
Job satisfaction has declined significantly from 62 per cent in 2007 to 55 per cent in 2012.
The percentage of managers who feel that they are working for declining organisations increased noticeably from 19 per cent in 2007 to 34 per cent in 2012.
CMI chief executive, Ann Francke, said of the findings:
"It's official: especially in a recession, authoritarian is out and empowering is in. It's more than just words - if you're a trusting manager and are good to your people you can reap big business rewards. If you're not, you're causing stress that is damaging the health of your people and the business."
Howard Hughes, head of employer marketing at Simplyhealth, said of the findings: "We're now in a double dip recession, unemployment is high, consumer confidence is low and businesses and individuals are feeling the pinch. Meeting objectives in a tough economic climate can mean tough decisions need to be made and restructuring or other organisational changes are necessary. This is perhaps one of the reasons why managers and directors are working around 1.5 hours per day over their contract in 2012.
"When it comes to health and wellbeing in the workplace, illness levels have increased, but managers seem less likely to take time off work when they are genuinely ill. It looks like presenteeism is another symptom of high levels of organisational change. We'd urge all organisations to ensure they have programmes in place to encourage employees to be proactive about caring for their health - this kind of good management will increase productivity, and ultimately the bottom line."
The research examines the impact of different management styles on motivation and business success and identifies 'high trust' organisations, defined by high levels of trust among junior and mid-level managers and their bosses. Those working for high trust employers reported better management decision-making and better employee engagement - a key factor driving performance.
There were also big differences between the management styles of growing and declining business. Despite the fact that the most commonly reported management styles were bureaucratic (45 per cent), reactive (33 per cent), and authoritarian (30 per cent), growth firms are far more likely to have accessible, empowering, trusting and consensual senior managers. In organisations where the prevailing management style was seen as authoritarian, only 28 per cent of respondents were satisfied with their job, compared to 67 per cent of organisations where it wasn't.
Report author, Professor Les Worrall FCMI, Professor of Strategic Analysis in the Faculty of Business, Environment and Society at Coventry University, said: "The scale and impact of change over the last five years has been staggering as all of our key measures from the survey have deteriorated markedly since 2007. What is more worrying is that there seems to be no sign of economic conditions getting better - we are in for a worrying time if these trends persist into the future."
Professor Cary L. Cooper CBE, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School and co-author of the report, said: "It is not surprising that the recession has led to more ill health among managers as they struggle to cope with heavier workloads, working longer and longer hours and looking over their proverbial shoulders for a sense of job security. The massive rise of presenteeism, managers coming earlier and staying later at work, as well as coming to work when ill, is making the situation much worse".