Working less for more success

The new year traditionally heralds a frenzy of job-hopping as people reassess their lives and focus on the future. And this year, given the tight labour market in many sectors, employers face more headaches replacing those who have jumped ship than usual.

All of which brings the issue of job satisfaction, uppermost in peoples’ minds at this time of year, into sharp focus.

The whole thing seems obvious. The happier the employee the more likely he or she will stay in their job.

But despite this, many employers continue to work their staff so hard that they get so fed up they quit or get so tired they go sick. Many of these employers are the very same businesses that claim their people are their greatest asset.

Chronic under-staffing and a presenteeism culture continues to plague long-hours Britain.

Numerous studies bear this out, including a recent survey of accountants carried out by Accountancy Age and The Cooperative Bank’s telephone and internet bank, Business Direct, which found that two out of five accountants are working more than 48 hours a week.

As more people quit in search of a new job they hope will enable them to live a more balanced lifestyle, more pressure is put on their former colleagues as they struggle to cope with ever increasing workloads.

Not only does this cause numerous personal and health problems, but it threatens the success of many businesses.

Recent research by CIMA into the views of company directors across the world found that they rated finding and retaining key people the most important factor in determining the success of their businesses – ahead of IT, e-business and shareholder demands.

So when it comes to making new year resolutions, if you want to help yourself, your colleagues and your employer, it seems the best thing you can do is switch off your computer and walk out of the office at five-thirty every night. And don’t take any work home with you.

Chris Quick is news editor of Accountancy Age.

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