Media workers pressured to put in excessive hours

Gwyther: "stressed employees have a negative impact on business"

Nearly a quarter of those employed in the media are working more than 60 hours a week, according to a new survey.

It also reveals that media employees are afraid to work fewer hours because they believe it would hurt their career chances.

The survey, carried out by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Work-Life Balance Campaign and Management Today, shows a steep rise over the past two years in the number of people across all industries who work excessive hours.

The study also raises concerns about the link between long hours and illness, saying there is strong evidence that a lack of flexible working options increases stress levels.

The main findings for the media sector are:

l23 per cent of employees within the media are working more than 60 hours a week;

l32 per cent of media staff think that working long hours is essential to their career progression and roughly the same number (34 per cent) believe that working long hours shows dedication to the job;

l80 per cent of media employees currently work overtime, but only 16 per cent are rewarded with extra pay or time off in lieu;

l15 per cent of media employees are stressed at work, but they are better than those in other sectors at leaving their stress in the office, with only one in 20 feeling stressed at home.

The survey reveals that 16 per cent of media workers have visited a GP because of stress, which they attribute to deadlines and pressures of work.

More than half of employees (56 per cent) within the media sector say their employer will only step in to redress a work-life problem when a crisis looms.

The majority of media workers (84 per cent) think their employers are right to put business goals first, but more than half (53 per cent) also believe it’s the employer’s responsibility to help staff balance their work and home lives.

Of media employees with commitments outside the workplace, 83 per cent say that work always or usually comes first.

Matthew Gwyther, editor of Management Today, said: "For some employees working a 60-hour week is enjoyable – they do it because they want to. But for others long hours are a source of stress. Stressed employees have a negative impact on the business and employers must combat this by putting in place formal policies that allow for a more flexible approach to work."

The DTI’s Work-Life Balance Campaign, launched in March 2000, aims to persuade employers to introduce ways of working that meet the needs of the business and customers while improving the work-life balance of their employees.

Jon Slattery

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