UK: EDITORIAL - THE FUTURE OF WORK IS IN THE BALANCE.

UK: EDITORIAL - THE FUTURE OF WORK IS IN THE BALANCE. - What is the personal price of your success? And how loyal are you to the organisation that pays your salary? What would make you leave for another job? Money, status - or the prospect of a better qu

by RUFUS OLINS.
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

What is the personal price of your success? And how loyal are you to the organisation that pays your salary? What would make you leave for another job? Money, status - or the prospect of a better quality of life?

We provide some answers to these questions and more in this issue, thanks to your overwhelming response to our work/life survey. Nearly 2,000 of you took part, making it one of the most substantial pieces of research into the recruitment, retention and motivation of senior staff. It doesn't make for comfortable reading.

The research identifies a worrying trend in British business: the 'strain drain'. Nearly a third of managers say their health is suffering because of work and one in three says his or her sex life is suffering. This adds up to a major problem for individuals and employers: more than 40% of you are likely to look for a new job in the next year. Despite expressing loyalty to your organisation, seven out of 10 would seriously consider an approach from a head-hunter.

You're in the rat race. In today's world of work, people feel they are making profound sacrifices to keep up. Families, relationships and hobbies are being squeezed - which does not leave most of you feeling very warm about your employer. Morale is lowest in the public sector and large organisations.

On almost every question, respondents from small organisations were more positive than those in large ones. Trust and morale were substantially higher and staff feel they get more respect. In large organisations nearly 40% of people say they don't believe bosses take their suggestions for new ways of working seriously.

Even employees who are generally satisfied find it a struggle to balance their work with the rest of their lives. Women, many of them mothers, find the tensions particularly difficult to resolve. Gender differences run through the answers. Women feel more guilty about leaving work on time; they are also less concerned with their financial rewards and place more importance on flexibility at work. Women talk more than men about the pressures they are under. Their friends, colleagues and even their bosses are more likely to hear about their problems and they are far more likely than men to turn to counselling.

Perhaps the biggest discrepancy involves the intangible issue of stress. Two out of three women say they feel stressed frequently, while among men it was just over half. More women than men also say they often reach for a drink to deal with it. Perhaps this discrepancy about feeling stressed is not about attitudes or behaviour but more about honesty. Women may simply be more candid. If that is true then many of the responses we have recorded understate the problem.

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