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Presenteeism findings by new Centre for Organisational Health and Wellbeing

05/14/2009 12:47:39

Lancaster University’s New Centre for Organisational Health and Wellbeing finds workers turning to ‘presenteeism’ during the recession.

British workers are spending more time at work in attempts to safeguard their jobs during the recession than they used to but surprisingly this is not adversely affecting their relationships at home, according to new research.

The findings published by Lancaster University’s new Centre for Organisational Health and Wellbeing , launched at the House of Commons, shows that 66% of employees are succumbing to ‘presenteeism’ at work as job insecurity bites as a result of the economic downturn.

The survey also found that whilst 61% of employees are worrying about the future and over half are finding the current economic situation stressful, the majority of those surveyed said that their home relationships had not been badly affected.

Improving health and wellbeing at work is the remit of the new Centre, which was formally launched on Tuesday 12 May at the House of Commons by Minister on State for Health , Ben Bradshaw.

The Director of the Centre Professor Susan Cartwright, from Lancaster University’s School of Health and Medicine commented “The gender differences in this survey are also worth mentioning, in that 71% of women reported that they are now spending more time at work compared with 61% of men. This suggests that women may feel more vulnerable about job loss than men. Furthermore, a higher percentage of women than men are finding the current economic situation stressful”. Professor Cartwright is a leading expert in the design and evaluation of organizational initiatives to reduce stress and promote health at work and together with Professor Cary Cooper has developed “ASSET”, a widely used stress screening tool.

Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University said that some of the results of the survey were encouraging.

“It’s probably not surprising that workers are stressed and worried, but I think these results show that people are realising that family life is important and are investing in it to make relationships work when other parts of life seem uncertain.

“Presenteesim may make the employee feel more secure because he or she is ‘putting the hours in’, but there is no evidence that consistent long hours result in increased productivity.”

Supported by a board of twelve private and public companies which help inform the research by debating the big issues around organisational health and wellbeing and feeding ideas into projects, the Centre aims to research on how to integrate many aspects of mental and physical health into work and the work environment. Current projects are being conducted in the area of employee engagement, absenteeism at work, leadership and health , and the effectiveness of health promotion initiatives.

Nestle, Unilever, Tesco, North Lancashire PCT, National Policing Improvement Agency, Manchester City Council, Shell, Northumbrian Water, GlaxoSmithKline, Astra Zeneca, the Cabinet Office and npower have signed up to support the Centre.

The Lancaster / UGov survey asked employees from all regions of the UK and all age groups how they are dealing with the recession in terms of health and wellbeing.

Key results of the survey conducted 17-20th April with a sample of 2247 workers showed that:

66% say that over the past few months they are spending more time at work than they used to. Only 15% of those surveyed are not.

The majority - 61% - of respondents said that they worry more about the future. 22% disagree

Over half ( 54% of workers) are finding the current economic situation stressful. 22% say they are not finding it stressful

54% of people said that their relationships were unaffected by the economic downturn, with 21% saying that relationships had been adversely affected.

42% of people surveyed said that in the past 3 months that they feel more insecure about their jobs. 37% disagree

45 % of employees said that they thought it best to ‘play it safe at work and keep my head down’ . 24 % disagreed.

41% of people reported a negative atmosphere at work. 24% said that there was a positive atmosphere at work