Workload, Organisational Culture and Managerial Pressure Behind Long Hours, say Working Parents

Career Climbers / 22nd August 2016

Almost half (42%) of working parents said they put in extra hours at work because it was the only way to deal with their workload, according to research by charity Working Families.

Worryingly, a third (33%) of survey respondents said doing unpaid overtime was part of their organisation’s culture and a quarter (27%)  said their manager expected it of them.

Working Families, which helps parents and carers – and their employers – find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work, is encouraging organisations to take part in National Work Life Week from October 3 to 7, 2016, and explore agile and more flexible ways of working.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: “In the UK we have some of the longest working hours in Europe, with more than one in ten employees putting in more than 50 hours each week.

“But business success is about productivity, not impressive timesheets, so it’s worrying that our survey showed many working parents feel a cultural pressure, or direct pressure from their manager, to stay late.

“The irony is that the evidence shows if you allow your employees more flexibility over how and where they work, their morale and productivity increases. It’s better for families and better for business.

“National Work Life Week is a great opportunity for employers – however large or small – to think about how they can better support work-life balance for their staff and reap rewards for business productivity and their bottom line too.”

The banking group Barclays put flexible working at the heart of the conversation for its 51,000 UK staff last National Work Life Week.

Barclays held webinars for staff to explore ways of dealing with pressures at home and work, shared stories by staff who were working flexibly to meet the needs of their job and home-life and held specific training for line managers on how to support mums and dads and promote the bank’s philosophy of flexible working, known as ‘dynamic working’.

Nikunj Upadhyay, chief of staff for diversity and inclusion and multigenerational lead at Barclays, said: “One of our strategic priorities is to be seen and experienced as a great place to work. And the feedback we get from colleagues shows a direct link between flexible working and people feeling more engaged. That has a knock-effect with productivity and staff retention, so we actively seek to create an environment that’s flexible and inclusive.

“At Barclays we’re trying to evolve to the next level of flexible working. We call it dynamic working. It’s about integrating your professional and personal life and defining your own working arrangement.

“National Work Life Week has a direct link to this philosophy so we’ll be making the most of the campaign again this year to highlight to staff how we can help them achieve the balance they need, whatever their life stage.”

Other organisations have run well-being workshops and meditation sessions, provided extra training for line managers and run online support and Q&A sessions for staff around work-life issues. Businesses that wish to take part can find more information, tips and resources by visiting

Working Families offers a support package to member employers all year round including expert policy advice on flexible working issues, sharing best practice examples and free or discounted rates at events and networking opportunities.

Follow Working Families on Twitter @WorkingFamUK with the campaign hashtag #TimeToRebalance and on Facebook.

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