Managers believe work outranks home, say one-third of employees
25th October 2016
The survey carried out by YouGov for counselling group Relate and its Scottish partner, Relationships Scotland found that 33% of respondents agreed that their employer assumes the most productive employees put work before family life. The same proportion believed their boss thoughts the ideal employee is available 24 hours a day, while over a fifth (21%) felt that attending to caring responsibilities (children or partners) was frowned upon at work.
The findings are contained in the report Labour of love -- or labour versus love?, which examines workplace relationships and how to balance work and home life. It is the first in a series of publications based on the poll of more than 5,000 working people across the UK.
The survey found that over a quarter (27%) of respondents admitted working longer hours than they would choose and this was damaging their physical or mental wellbeing. Almost a third (29%) disagreed with the statement "I don't feel pressured by my employer to work long hours to advance my career", thus indicating that they did feel compelled to work longer hours. Young workers at an earlier stage of their careers were more likely to feel this pressure.
While 63% of employees said their relationship with their boss was good, 30% agreed that they felt pressured to work by their manager even if they were ill. And people who were disabled or limited by a long-term health condition were more likely to feel under pressure to work by their employer: 36% compared with 29% who were not disabled/limited by a long-term problem.
Similarly, disabled workers were almost twice as likely to experience what they felt was intimidating or bullying behavior from their managers: 19% compared with 10% without disabilities.
"When we're overworked and struggling to balance work and family, we're more likely to become ill, perform less well, and leave our jobs; when we're satisfied with work and work-life balance, we're more likely to perform better and be more productive," the report says.
"When we're overworked, our relationships also tend to suffer, as the build-up of stress outside the relationship takes its toll on the ways in which we relate to one another. But, in their turn, personal relationships can also impact upon our work, when relationship dissatisfaction and distress affect our overall health and wellbeing and thereby reduce work engagement."
Three-quarters of workers reported good quality relationships with colleagues. However, although relationships with colleagues were found to be "mostly in good shape", the report calls into question the depth of these workplace relationships after 30% of employees said they weren't able to discuss personal problems going on at home during work, while only 40% said they did feel comfortable doing this. Women were more likely to feel that they could discuss personal issues (44%) compared with men (36%).
"Work-life balance in this country is shockingly poor and this is hugely damaging for our relationships and overall wellbeing -- as well as for productivity," said Professor Sir Cary Cooper, president of Relate. "Employers need to take more responsibility for the pressure that stress and lack of work-life balance can put on relationships at home."
The report suggests that all employees should be given access to flexible working in order to increase their ability to balance work and family life. It also recommends employers to "develop a workplace culture where employees feel able to discuss workload and hours and empowered to balance paid and unpaid work effectively, and as they choose".