Boston, MA June 9, 2010 – Even as the economy begins to improve, workloads for employees and managers continue to escalate and stress is taking its toll, according to a survey of business leaders and work-life experts conducted by WFD Consulting.
WFD’s Second Annual Survey on Workload in America 2010 found that employee workload and stress continue to escalate, with nine out of ten respondents reporting that managers’ and employees’ workloads have increased in the last twelve months. At the same time, 80% report that employee’s stress has increased and morale has decreased, and half report that employee motivation, energy and endurance continue to slip. Full results of the survey can be accessed on the WFD Consulting workload website (http://www.wfd.com/news/register-wst.html).
In the past year, work pressures have grown as the number of employees has shrunk. Three quarters (74%) of respondents report an increase in expectations for speed of execution and 60% report that the demands of managing globally have increased. Half report workforce reductions during the same period. Despite these trends, employee productivity and innovation have improved over the same time period.
“Of particular concern,” notes Peter Linkow, President of WFD Consulting, “is the welfare of managers. They bear the brunt of globalization — traveling more and rising early, staying up late, and working weekends to take calls from around the globe. And as layoffs escalate and work forces remain lean, managers often have more people to supervise and pick up the lion’s share of the extra work.”
Only one-third (35%) of respondents report that workloads in their organizations are reasonable, and only one-third (34%) say that their organizations have eliminated most low-value, unnecessary work which is a key factor contributing to workload and overwork. As in the 2009 survey, respondents identify inadequate staffing to meet work demands as the biggest factor driving excessive workload. Other key factors include bureaucracy, too many levels of approval and slow decision-making; information overload, too much e-mail and internal communication, making it difficult to filter and prioritize key information; and poor communication and coordination among different functions.
“Most organizations are taking action to address workload issues or eliminate low-value work,” says Diane Burrus, a senior consultant with WFD Consulting. “They’re doing this through business reorganization, work redesign efforts, greater focus on key priorities, and better planning and communication within and across functions,” she adds.
Half the organizations that recognize the impact of workload pressure are responding with resources to build employee resilience and help manage stress associated with increased work demands. Companies are encouraging the use of flexible work options, vacation time and leaves and providing tools to help individuals and teams manage workload and eliminate low-value work. Other actions include offering stress management workshops and work-life integration programs. Many are more actively promoting their EAPs, health and wellness programs, and fitness centers. Another key action has been more leadership communication to employees via town halls and manager/employee dialogues, especially on the financial state of the organization, and support to make use of available programs.
The survey was administered online to work-life, diversity, and talent leaders, business unit heads, and academic experts. The 85 respondents came from a variety of industry sectors, including financial services, pharmaceuticals, professional services, technology, higher education, and governmental and not-for-profit organizations.
WFD Consulting, based in Boston, is a work-life and talent management consulting firm with over 25 years of experience addressing workload and employee resilience issues and implementing successful management, team and organizational solutions at Fortune 500 companies. WFD offers innovative and practical Workload Solutions that reduce low-value work and inefficiencies, reduce stress and build resilience, including a Managing Workload Toolkit.
Senior Consultant, Workload Solutions Practice Leader
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