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Employees suffering from stress, overwork and poor work-life balance

A new study by UK professional body CIPD finds job quality is being regularly undermined in the workplace. Flexible working can help

Employee stress and overwork

Poor work-life balance is causing disruption to family life and making it hard for employees to switchoff in their downtime, according to UK professional body CIPD.

A study of 5,136 people finds stress and overwork endemic in UK businesses.  Three in five people say they work longer hours than they want and one in four (24%) say they overwork by 10 or more hours a week. A quarter (24%) admit it’s difficult to relax in their own time because they are thinking about work and that their job affects their personal commitments (26%).

Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of people say they often or always feel exhausted in their jobs (22%), or under excessive pressure (22%).

“At its best, work gives people purpose, a sense of identity and achievement and allows them to contribute to society. But, as our research shows, work can sometimes be all-encompassing, demands too much of people’s precious personal time and takes too much out of them,” CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese (pictured below) told delegates at the Festival of Work in London. 

Other findings from the report highlight serious concerns about the demands of work and the impact it can have on people’s health. Two in three workers (66%) say they have experienced a work-related health condition in the last 12 months, with anxiety and sleep problems being two of the most common issues reported.

The CIPD is calling on employers to offer a range of flexible working practices to all employees to improve people’s work-life balance and protect their health and wellbeing. According to the study, 78% of people say flexible working has a positive impact on their quality of life.

However, two-thirds of employees (68%) want to work flexibly in at least one form that is not currently available to them.

“It’s disappointing to see so many workers report that they have a poor work-life balance and it is an issue which must be addressed by employers. They need to be offering all staff a wide range of flexible working arrangements and actively promote their take-up,” added Cheese.

“As co-chair of the Flexible Working Task Force, we are working with the Government and other business groups to bring flexible working to the masses and help reset the work-life balance. Not only will this help to improve people’s quality of life, but it will make their performance at work more sustainable over the longterm.”

The CIPD has produced new guidance and tools on flexible working for all sectors, providing tips on how to improve uptake, successfully implement and carry out an effective evaluation.

Peter Cheese, CEO CIPD

Published 12 June 2019
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