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January 15, 2016

Stressed managers working more hours than ever

Stressed managers working more hours than everManagers are working longer than ever and suffering rising levels of stress according to the latest Quality of Working Life study from the Chartered Management Institute.

This long-standing report from the CMI, carried out with Sir Professor Cary Cooper and Professor Les Worrall, has catalogued the changing face of working life in the UK since 1997. The findings of the report reveal that since the recession, the proportion of managers working over their contracted hours has risen steadily, reaching 92% in 2015.

Of the managers surveyed for this latest report, 77% work for at least an additional hour each day, adding up to an extra 29 days over the course of a year - more than the average holiday entitlement of 28 days. Up to 10% put in more than three extra hours each day, the equivalent of working a 15-month year.

Not surprisingly, those working long hours are more than three times as likely to report they feel stressed than those working no additional hours. 54% of managers agree that long working hours are leading to elevated levels of stress.

Technology is blamed by 61% of managers as they say they find it harder to switch off, with one in five reporting that they check emails all the time. Those struggling to switch off also report lower personal productivity levels. In addition, mobile technology raises stress levels, with 61% stating that mobile technology makes it hard to switch off from work.

Effective management is a key factor in handling stress in the workplace according to the report. The worst management styles are shown to generate up to four times more stress than the best: 28% of those reporting that their line managers are "secretive" or "suspicious" feel stressed, compared to just 7% of those who believe their managers empower them to take their own decisions. Innovative, entrepreneurial and empowering management styles were found to drive job satisfaction levels up to 2.5 times higher than "command and control" styles.

Sir Cary Cooper CBE, professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School, said: "Businesses should be on alert for signs of burnout. Stress is a natural reaction to challenging conditions, and while it can raise motivation and help individuals meet deadlines in the short-term, over longer periods it is extremely damaging."

Ann Francke, ceo of CMI, said: "Most of us are comfortable with the idea that a modern workplace requires us to occasionally pitch in out of hours. But the 'always on' culture must be switched off."

Despite the rise in hours, job satisfaction is on the up. Two-thirds (67%) of managers are currently satisfied with their jobs, a rise of 12% on 2012, and higher than the 62% recorded in 2007 before the financial crash.

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