Overhaul the long hours culture

In a recent article in Management Today, Mary Perkins (the founder of Specsavers) said that one of the reasons there aren’t more women on boards is because “They don’t want to work till midnight or be made to travel.”

Putting aside the issues of gender inequalities including home and family responsibilities, this business leader is equating long working hours to career progression. But since when has burning the midnight oil or travelling away from home been an indicator of a good leader? Or a worker for that matter? Should you promote people who are committed to a long-working hours culture or instead ask them if there’s a problem that is keeping them away from having a healthy balanced life?

Researchers have found that long working hours are associated with reduced work quality, increased labour turnover, fatigue, physical ill health, stress or mental ill health, and poor work-life balance.  And even a report by the Government and CBI recognised that “long hours are a poor substitute for good work organisation” and stated “there is a clear business case for reorganising work patterns away from an over-reliance on long hours.”

Can we conclude that many industry leaders, such as Mary, are too busy to read the reports or that they don’t really see the value in a happy and healthy workforce?

If you want help in rebalancing your organisation’s working practises then contact gill@unisonmedia.co.uk (but not after 6pm or at weekends).



Management Today (Feb 2012) You live and you learn: Mary Perkins, p12.

Beswick, J., & White, J. (2003).  Working long hours: HSL/2003/02.  Health & Safety Laboratory, Sheffield.    http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/hsl_pdf/2003/hsl03-02.pdf    

DTI in association with CBI and TUC.  (2005).  Managing change: Practical ways to reduce long hours and reform working practices.  http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file14239.pdf  

Share Post :