Almost 40% of British SME workers are enjoying their jobs less than they used to, according to a new survey by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks. Now you may think that the reasons for this are obvious: with the economy going to hell in handcart and various companies suddenly lurching into the red, it would be no surprise if our stress levels were rising (we can’t imagine there are many cheery faces at M&S this week, for example).
But in fact, the problem may be more deep-seated than that. The bank’s research also discovered that we’re just not taking enough holidays: 44% admitted to taking fewer days off than they’re entitled to. And to make matters worse, when we do actually get away from the office, we’re finding it hard to let go: 77% of SME employees admitting to keeping in touch with work when they ought to be paddling in their flip-flops and building giant sandcastles. Admirably conscientious, perhaps, but not very good for the soul.
The biggest bunch of misery-guts were workers in the North West and West Midlands, 47% of whom reported that they are now less happy in their work than they once were. And interestingly, these were also the people least likely to take all their holiday (almost 60% failed miserably to cash in their full entitlement), and the most likely to stay in touch with HQ on those rare occasions that they do venture into the sunshine. Spotting a pattern yet?
Mike Williams, who’s in charge of business banking at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, reckons these figures show that the general decline in job satisfaction is less to do with our current economic woes, and more to do with our inability to relax. ‘Business owners should try to ensure that their staff take full advantage of their annual leave entitlement,’ he said (as his direct reports rubbed their hands in glee and started filling out holiday forms). ‘This could lead to a happier, more productive workforce.’
Clearly our attitudes to work/ life balance still leave a lot to be desired. Our Edwardian forefathers, who once sang ‘Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside,’ would be spinning in their graves if they thought we were only going away to beaches with Wi-fi access. So this year, why not swap your Blackberry for a Raspberry Ripple, and get as far away from the office as possible. Your boss will thank you for it in the long run...