Excessive workloads and smart phone technology enabling ‘overtime culture’

Almost half of managers in the UK work an extra day in unpaid overtime every week, according to research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).

47% of employees clocked an additional 7.5 hours or more, with 13% working two days extra on a weekly basis.

In a snapshot survey of 1,000 ILM members, 94% admitted to working above and beyond their contracted hours each week, with the majority (65%) reportedly feeling pressure from their organisation to do so.

Furthermore, 44% of managers felt direct pressure from their boss to complete supplementary hours for free. Excessive workloads appear to be the most common reason for employees working longer, with more than half (53%) the respondents reporting it.

Experts have suggested that while advances in technology were billed as an enabler for flexible working, it has now “blurred the lines” between normal working practices.

60% of under-pressure workers admitted to using their personal phone for work matters and more than 8 in 10 regularly checked their emails on evenings and weekends.

Figures reveal that the UK’s so-called “overtime culture” is having a serious effect on employees’ work-life balance – just 13 per cent of workers surveyed said they had a good balance – and research from the Work Foundation found that overwork can lead to underperformance, resulting in employee burnout, and illness.

In 2011, CIPD figures revealed that for the first time, stress was the number one cause of long-term absence from work, with the economic downturn a contributing factor to the increased pressure that all UK workers face.

Dr Jill Miller, CIPD adviser, said it was down to line managers to “spot the early signs of people being under excessive pressure or having difficulty coping at work and to provide appropriate support,” but with the ILM’s findings suggesting many feeling direct pressure from their boss, experts suggest a company-wide approach is key.