Four Lessons For Managers During This National Work Life Week

Wednesday 03 October 2018
Since 1997, the CMI’s quality of working life survey has explored the connections between managers’ wellbeing, motivation and productivity
scale showing balance between work and life

As we enter National Work Life Week, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that managers should strive for work/life balance – for both business and personal reasons.

Here are some lessons from CMI’s long-running Quality of Working Life study:

Over-workers Are Under-performers

Happy and positive people get better results at work. So how can managers create an environment that encourages positivity and mental wellbeing? First of all, CMI’s work has shown that learning to switch off is vital; 61% of managers said that new technology made it difficult to escape from work. Around one in five managers said they would regularly check their email ‘all the time’ and over half of those surveyed checked it frequently.

The culture of working overtime needs to change. One in ten UK managers end up taking at least one day of sick leave due to stress and depression. According to the OECD, mental health problems cost the UK economy £70bn a year.

As the UK prepares to the leave the EU, it is worth noting that UK productivity lags 22% behind France and 26% behind Germany. Those who struggled to confine their work to working hours reported both lower personal productivity and job satisfaction levels, and they experience more frequent stress. So this week try not to be one of the 68% of leaders who rate themselves as less than 70% productive thanks to never clocking off.

Happy Workers Are High Performers

There is growing evidence of the connection between happiness and productivity. Fortunately, the most recent Quality of Working Life survey showed that UK managers are reasonably positive. Around 67% of managers said that overall they were satisfied in their work. So, encouraging optimism and celebrating success is vital.

Trust Is Key

Workplace culture can promote good mental health. Seventy-nine per cent of managers felt that their line manager trusted them and around three-quarters said they’re proud to work for their employer.

You Can Be Innovative In How You Support Work/life Balance

For one of the report’s participants – Leyla Okhai, head of equality, diversity and inclusion at Imperial College London – having company policies that improve mental health is a complete no-brainer. ‘If people are happy and positive in the workplace you’re going to see innovation and great results,’ she said. Adding, ‘Why wouldn’t you want that?’

Okhai helped her university improve mental health and wellbeing among staff. She made sure there was ‘space to talk about issues that might stand in the way of healthy and happy personnel that are satisfied in their job.’

For example, first aid was not just something that would be provided for accidents on the premises – it was offered for the mental wellbeing of staff, too. There are now 150 mental health first-aiders who give advice and support to their colleagues at the university.

If there is one thing for UK managers to take away this National Work Life Week, it should surely be how crucial it is for managers to support their employees – and themselves – in wellbeing at work. Of the 1,037 managers surveyed for CMI research, the average boss put in an extra 7.5 hours a week.