Working Long or Working Smart: Getting Work-Life Balance
The Prime Minister has said on many occasions that Gross National Wellbeing is as important as GDP.
Indeed, there is a worldwide movement, since the credit crunch, to reassess our priorities in the workplace
to ensure that we get greater work-life balance. Indeed, the UK government is currently engaged in an exercise
to measure ‘wellbeing’ throughout the UK. This has been stimulated partly by the costs of depleted wellbeing.
We know, for example, from the Foresight project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing, that lack of mental wellbeing costs UK Plc in excess of £100b per annum, and in the workplace alone £25.9b–for stress-related/mental ill health absence around £15b and for presenteeism (being ill but turning up to work but providing no added value) roughly double that figure. We are now in a scenario where there are fewer people in the workplace, having heavier workloads, feeling job insecure, working longer and longer hours and being more micro-managed. This is not only adversely affecting the health of many people but also their personal and family lives.
The evidence is that people are working longer hours both because of their increasing workloads but also because they are feeling job insecure, and they feel that showing ‘face time’ by arriving early and staying late, might show the level of commitment at work that will make them immune from the next tranche of redundancies. The opposite is likely to occur, in that they burn themselves out and end up more vulnerable to job loss. Getting the right balance by working smarter, not longer, by investing in their families, communities and relationships, and by prioritizing their workloads to enable them to get this balance, are personal health and productivity priorities
My talk will focus on the costs of lack of wellbeing, the sources of it, what individuals and organisations can do to enable a better work-life balance in people’s lives. As social reformer John Ruskin wrote in 1851 “In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: they must be fit for it, they must not do too much of it, and they must have a sense of success in it”.
Robertson, I and Cooper, CL (2011) Wellbeing: Productivity and Happiness at Work. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Palmer, S and Cooper, CL (2010) How to Deal with Stress. London: Kogan Page Publ.
Theobald, T and Cooper, CL (2012). Doing the Right Thing: The Importance of Wellbeing in the Workplace. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Cary L. Cooper, CBE
Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health
Lancaster University Management School
Cary Cooper will be speaking at the JIBS Annual HR Forum on the 23rd March 2012 click here to find out more.
When does a fund always perform well? When it’s potentially a scam.
After the many scandals of recent years it takes a lot to shock me these days. However, shocked I was. I’d just finished watching ‘Hunting Madoff’, a fabulous film (if you’re a geek like me that is) looking at the Ponzi scheme, that was the Madoff fund. It wasn’t the scale of the fraud that shocked me, or the truly heartbreaking stories from individuals who had lost every penny of their lifesavings. What shocked me so much, was the absolute ineptitude of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the regulators in the US. The film details the story of Harry Markopolos, an investment manager based in the US who saw the Madoff fund for what it was – 10 years before the fund failed with over $50billion under management.
Harry and his co-investigators from industry decided they must do the right thing and report their analysis to the SEC. Despite repeated efforts to alert the regulators over a period of years, no action was taken and the Madoff fund grew into the monster it became.For me, the failure of the SEC is absolutely indicative of the failure of boards universally. Lehman Brothers, Enron, Northern Rock, HBOS, Northern Rock, Worldcom and the list goes on and on. The failure of the SEC board to ensure adequate oversight of reporting procedures meant that the whistleblower report provided by Markopolis in the film went unheeded. Investors lost billions, regulators lost credibility. Was it ineptitude or something more sinister?When will it all end? When will boards start to take genuine responsibility for the actions of their organisations rather than simply picking up the cheque?Seeing former Knight of the Realm, Fred Goodwin, stripped of his Knighthood possibly shows that the tide is turning. Hopefully society will not sit idle as boards sit docile. Investor activism is growing. The challenge for boards is to grasp the nettle, before the nettle grasps the board.