UK workers struggle with work-life balance

Heavy workloads are responsible for increased stress levels, with 60% of respondents finding it difficult to switch off from work when at home, according to research commissioned by health cash plan provider Medicash.

The research, which surveyed more than 1,000 working parents in the UK, found that respondents who felt they have the worst work-life balance live in Birmingham (43%), followed closely by London (39%), Liverpool (36%) and Manchester (36%).

Those who felt they had the best work-life balance live in Glasgow (83%) and Norwich (75%), and worked in the arts and culture sector (69%).

The research also found that respondents who felt guilty about working long hours are in the professional services sector (29%), followed closely by those working in finance. 

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University and director at Robertson Cooper (pictured), said: “Organisations must actively promote flexible working and employees need to take advantage of that opportunity.

“Work smarter, not longer should be our mantra. Increasingly, we are seeing employees turning up to work ill and delivering little added value; presenteeism does not enhance but undermines productivity.

“Given the pressures on people with increasing workloads, the demands by clients for the completion of work instantaneously and the ability to interface with people 24/7 through new technologies means that it is vital that people find time for their family during the weekends, family holidays and at least two to three nights a week, or they and their families will suffer and, ultimately, so will the organisation.

“We all need a certain level of financial security, but past a certain point it’s our personal relationships that are by far the most important aspect of our quality of life.”

Sue Weir, chief executive officer at Medicash, added: “The results of the study are very troubling, revealing that a healthy work-life balance may be hard to come by in today’s economy.

“The health implications of excessive working are very serious and should not be overlooked, often being associated with the development of health problems like heart disease, diabetes, stress and depression, which is not only damaging for personal relationships, but also the UK economy.

“Keeping a good work-life balance helps both workers and businesses.”