The famous economist John Maynard Keynes

Keynes said we could all be working a 15-hour week by now, however this remains a distant hope. The type of work also seems to have changed in the past decades, people now say they are working harder to greater pressure under greater levels of stress.

In the UK government-funded surveys conducted every five years show rising work pressures since the 1990s. The  number employees who “strongly agree” their job requires that they work “very hard” increased from 30 per cent in 1992 to 46 per cent in 2017.

All Sectors

Notably that it’s happening to everyone all types of jobs and professions from the Amazon delivery driver to the factory production person to the London commuter and the new trainee solicitor. Everyone appears to be under pressure working hard for usually the same reward.

The Resolution Foundation think-tank study said two-thirds of employees in the top quarter of the pay ladder said they worked “under a great deal of tension” in 2017. The same was true for half of those in the bottom quarter for pay, but this bottom group has experienced the biggest increase in tension since the 1990s. This regardless of the pay ladder at the top or bottom all are feeling the extra pressure.

Cause of Stress

Why is this what is behind this extra stress and work pressure? In a world of instant e mail, mobile phone and sms communication, many workers now feel they have to respond instantly to consumer or client demands or emails from Managers. This applies to the Investment banker working on a new client merger as well as the Deliveroo driver he sms  to bring him a late night dinner.

Another reason for this added pressure are changing demographics, that employers have simply cut headcount to save costs without coming up with more efficient ways of doing the work, thus purring more work on existing staff. Add to this an ageing workforce and less new young people to fill the shoes of an ageing retiring population.

Thirdly, technology has meant employees are “watched” or monitored all the time to gain more effort from staff. Technology in factories and  warehouses which are partially automated means workers must keep up with machines adding to the pressure.

Monitoring software is cheap and easy to install allowing Employers to track employees’ hours spent working, billing hours for professionals services number of calls made and so on an endless list of variables that can be tracked and monitored. In addition measuring staff breaks and sends alerts onto staff PC;s if they go on to non-work related websites.

Fourthly  email and instant messaging software’s and connecting videos links like Slack, Zoom, WhatsApp simply tire and make people weary mentally. Focus and concentrated work is difficult when constantly interrupted by emails sms etc which makes staff feel as if they are working hard and faster even if they aren’t getting much done, increasing the feeling of pressure.

What can we do?

The Fix? A Four Day week – maybe , trails are now beginning in UK workplaces in July 2022. If we can’t work less hard, its tome to we just work less – we will report the outcome of the 4 day trials – look out for the next Backing you Newsletter

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