Overtime eating managers alive, says ILM

09 July 2014 -


Bosses feeling increasing pull to their work activities and smartphones outside office hours, with some notching up two extra days of work per week

Matt Packer

Managers are becoming ever-more susceptible to the undertow of overtime, according to findings released today by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).

According to its research, many managers are finding it more and more difficult to break away from work-related activities – particularly tasks that can be actioned via personal technologies. In fact, 13% of more than 1,000 ILM members who were surveyed confessed that they regularly work another 15 hours per week on top of their normal hours –that’s two full days under the standard 7.5 hours-per-day system.

Other findings showed:

65% of managers said they feel under pressure to work extra hours

Just 13% of workers feel that they have a good work-life balance

More than half (53%) said that the scale of their workloads is the main reason they work overtime

ILM chief executive Charles Elvin said: “When you add up all the skipped lunch breaks, early morning conference calls and after-hours emails, you see just how widespread the extra-hours culture is within UK business. We asked workers at the start of 2014 what their work New Year’s resolutions were, and almost a third said they wanted to improve their work-life balance. It is sad to see that this is only being achieved by a small percentage of workers.”

He added: “Of course, all organisations face busy periods when employees will feel motivated to work above and beyond their contractual hours. But excessive hours are not sustainable – there are only so many times you can burn the midnight oil before your performance, decision making and wellbeing begin to suffer. This is why it’s so important for organisations to equip staff with the fundamental planning and time-management skills they need to cope with their workloads more effectively.”

The survey also identified the impact of smartphone technology on under-pressure workers, with 60% saying they use their personal phones for work matters and more than eight out of 10 workers (86%) regularly checking their emails on evenings and weekends. A hard core of 21% spend more than an hour each day sending email via their smartphones, and typically check their work email more than 10 times per day outside office hours.

Elvin sounded a note of caution on these habits. “Smartphones are a fantastic enabler of flexible working,” he said, “but we see here that they can also lead to some rather unhealthy behaviours, such as the obsessive checking and sending of out-of-hours emails. We all know how stressful it can be to receive an urgent late-night email when you feel compelled to respond immediately. Organisations can help address this with some clear guidelines on email etiquette, including when best to send and reply to important messages.”

For more on these issues, buy CMI’s New Manager Book of the Year Winning Without Losing by Martin Bjergegaard and Jordan Milne – the “ultimate guide to improving your work-life balance”.

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