Extra Workload a Challenge for Work-life Balance
October 28 2016 - A recent survey suggests that office workloads in major European economies have gone up significantly over the last year. The survey conducted by OnePoll in August 2016 questioned 3,000 office workers - 1,000 respondents each in the UK, France and Germany. The responses indicated that workloads had increased over the last year for 77% of those surveyed in France, 72% in Germany and 58% in the UK. The consequences were increased stress levels and less time for holidays and families as employees worked longer hours.
The survey was commissioned by Wrike to find out about digital working culture and its impact on the lives of office workers in the three countries. The survey highlighted a mismatch between staffing levels and the amount of work coming in. Organizations were either not recruiting additional staff to cover extra work or had actually cut their workforce. Employees were also taking on increased responsibilities, probably because the existing staff had to pick up the slack.
In the UK 47% of workers polled across all sectors said they put in longer hours to get the job done compared with a year ago. 40% of managers confirmed that they expected staff to put in extra time and 33% they should take fewer breaks to cope with demand. But UK employees were faring better than their continental counterparts - working hours had gone up by 56% in France and 61% in Germany.
There was a strong correlation between the highest perceived increases in workload and the most stress (83%). Germany was the country in the survey with the highest increase in stress reported over a year ago (66%), followed by the UK (62%) and France (60%).
The Wrike survey also indicated the dramatic effect that changing workload has had on time available for family and holidays. Almost a third (31%) of British respondents affected were spending less time with their families than a year ago, 28% had less time for holidays and 25% were working more at weekends than they used to. By contrast, 51% of employees polled in Germany and 41% in France reported a decrease in their family time.
Over all, a fifth of British employees still thought their their working hours were fine. However, 59% would prefer to work fewer hours if they could afford it financially or their workloads could be adjusted.
More positively, technology was seen by a majority as key to dealing with an expanding task list, specifically through easier remote working, sharing information, and increasing productivity. More than a quarter of employees felt they and their teams had become more productive over the last year, despite increased workloads.
According to Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike:
"Much has been made of the blurring of lines between work and private life. Our study shows that it's not so much a blurring of those worlds but a progressive decline of personal time in favour of work time.
"The problem is that workloads are growing exponentially, but the systems and processes we have are not keeping up - and that is taking a toll on workers. They need better ways of managing the sheer volume of work requests and demands. At the same time, business leaders need a clear view of workloads - and realistic expectations as to the amount of work staff can handle at once, without burning out.
"You wouldn't overload a piece of machinery and expect it to last long without failure. The same principles apply to humans, especially if you expect them to produce high quality work on a consistent basis."