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Long Hours Not The Real Workplace Issue


The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has hit out at the TUC’s work your proper hours day today (Friday), saying that by concentrating on long hours it misses the point.

It argues that for UK employers, the real challenge is reducing stress and pressure in the workplace, which are usually down to poor management and work organisation.

Earlier this month, HR Zone reported on the case of Tracy Daw who was awarded more than £100,000 in damages following a breakdown due to work-related stress associated with her workload and management.

The CIPD says that Office for National Statistics figures show that the average weekly hours work is falling, from 32.9 in 1998 to 31.9 in 2006. In addition, the most recent WERS survey shows that the number of organisations offering flexible working options to non-managerial employees has increased:

  • 26 per cent offered flexitime in 2004, up from 19 per cent in 1998

  • 28 per cent offered homeworking in 2004, up from 16 per cent in 1998

  • 73 per cent offered parental leave in 2004 up from just 38 per cent in 1998

  • The proportion of workplaces offering fathers paid paternity or discretionary leave has almost doubled (up from 48 per cent in 1998 to 92 per cent in 2004).

CIPD employee relations adviser Ben Willmott said: “A close look at the facts reveals that many people in the UK are benefiting from the growth of flexible and part-time working. However, there are pockets of long-hours working and sometimes this can have negative consequences including work-related stress. But more frequently work-related stress is caused by poor line management.

“Managing stress at work is to a large extent simply about good people management, and this can be completely unconnected to the number of hours worked. Line managers must set clear objectives for individuals in their team, communicate with clarity, consult and provide plenty of feedback about performance – including praise. They must also spend time coaching and developing members of their team.”

Stress at work is also something that the EU is focusing on. The EU adopted a five-year strategy on reducing work-related illnesses today (21 February), which pays particular attention to the increase in illness caused by psychological strain.

Under the strategy, member states will be required to simplify legislation, conduct awareness raising campaigns and encourage better information and training.


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