Three-quarters (75%) of respondents believe that receiving higher pay would improve their working lives the most, according to research by national trade union centre the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
Its A future that works for working people report, which surveyed 2,145 UK employees aged 16 and over, also found that 46% of respondents cite the issue of pay not keeping up with living costs as their biggest concern at work. Half (48%) of respondents state that pay falling behind is a key challenge for the next five to 10 years.
Frances O’Grady (pictured), general secretary at the TUC, said: “[Employees] are having a hard time. They’ve suffered the longest pay squeeze in 200 years. Millions of people are stuck in insecure jobs and stressed out. And too many employers are using tech to treat [employees] unfairly.”
After pay, long working hours and stress are also prominent employee concerns. Two-fifths (40%) of respondents say that high pressure on people and stress at work are one of their three biggest concerns at work, compared to 28% who cite working long hours or a work overload. Looking ahead to the next five to 10 years, 35% of respondents rank high pressure on people and stress at work as one of their biggest concerns, while 25% feel that working long hours and a work overload is their biggest fear for the future.
O’Grady added: “When the TUC’s first congress took place 150 years ago, people worked 10 hours a day with only Sunday off. But, in the last century we won a two-day weekend and limits on long hours. This century, we must raise our sights to reduce working time again.”
Around 70% of respondents believe that gaining more control over the hours they work would be a positive change for them, however only 39% feel that this is likely to happen. In comparison, 65% of respondents think that working less for the same pay would be a positive development, but only 40% believe this is possible.
Lynn Cahillane, jobs expert at Totaljobs, said: “Working longer hours is often equated with greater productivity, however, that’s not often true. In fact, over a third of [employees] admitted to feeling obliged to stay at work beyond their contracted hours in order to be seen as being more productive. This is a major issue for the UK, as presenteeism has a negative impact on overall productivity. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that people are actively searching for new ways to improve their outputs, without compromising their work-life balance, and four day working weeks are an attractive proposition.
“In the shorter term, there are simple ways [organisations] can improve productivity without taking Friday off. This could be as simple as shortening meetings, implementing email black-out periods and encouraging full-hour lunch breaks away from desks. Any one of these solutions can be implemented to enhance the overall work-life balance within an organisation, and trialling various methods is a great first step towards improving productivity levels as a whole.”