184Mmillion ‘Free’ Days of Work – But Excessive Hours Fail to Deliver Results

Data released today by the Chartered Management Institute suggests that managers in the IT sector are putting in too many hours, for too few returns. The figures, which come from a report looking at the ‘Quality of Working Life’, have been issued in support of the TUC’s ‘Work Your Proper Hours’ campaign.

The report indicates that efforts to reduce working hours in recent years have failed to have a positive impact in the IT sector. Some of the key findings of the study include:

• 83 per cent of managers in the IT sector regularly work over their contracted hours – a figure that has barely fallen since 2000 (91 per cent)

• The average manager works 1 hour 18 minutes over contract each day – equivalent to roughly 40 days per year, or 184 million days each year for the UK’s management population.

• Only 1 in 4 work excess hours by choice. Many in the sector (49 per cent) do so to meet deadlines or because of the volume of work they face.

• 51 per cent in the IT sector believe that the UK’s long hours culture affects their productivity and 42 per cent argue that working excessively hits morale.

• On a personal level, 66 per cent in the sector also say that working over contracted hours limits exercise time and over half (58 per cent) claim extra hours prevent them from developing skills.

Analysis of the data, published in association with Simplyhealth, shows that the average manager only takes 3.5 days absence each year. It means that for every day lost to illness, the average manager provides almost 11.5 days ‘free of charge’ to their employer.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, says: “Many organisations focus on the cost of absence to their organisations, yet are not addressing the root causes of absenteeism. Surely, in today’s results-driven environment, output is more important than input, so two questions need to be answered; why are employers ignoring the impact of long hours on the health and performance of their employees and what responsibility are employees taking for how they manage themselves?”

The ‘Quality of Working Life’ report also indicates that Britain’s long-hours culture is not down to over-bearing bosses. Asked why they worked over contract, only 2 per cent claimed to be ‘pressurised to do it’ and just 3 per cent suggested it was ‘to get ahead’.

Looking at those in full-time employment, the report also shows that women are more able to control their workload. Only 16 per cent of women, compared to 35 per cent of men, work over 48 hours per week and just 3 per cent of female respondents admitted to working in excess of 60 hours each week, compared to 7 per cent of men.

Causon adds: “The perpetual cycle of taking out costs in recent years has meant that most organisations are driven to use their assets – particularly their people – more intensively. Yet it is clearly having a negative effect and will create longer-term problems for organisations unless the UK’s long hours culture is kept in check.”

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