Research Report

Megatrends: are we working harder than ever?

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Megatrends: are we working harder than ever?

Published April 2014

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This fourth Megatrends publication asks whether we are working harder than ever. Using evidence from different surveys measuring work intensity over the last 20 years the report suggests that employees seem to think they are working harder than ever. However this is not due to longer hours but a sense that work is becoming a more intense experience. There are now greater workloads and pressures to meet deadlines, customer demands and performance targets. 

The effects of the recession and greater job insecurity have also played a part in creating extra pressures for some employees. As well as technological change and the expectations of customers and service users have made work more demanding. 

"The proportion of employees in the UK saying their job requires them to work very hard  is amongst
 the highest in Europe. It is not clear exactly why this is the case. The UK scores above average
 – but is not exceptional – in terms of perceived pressures arising from workloads and deadlines."

The report offers a range of potential explanations and concludes with a summary of the implications for employees, employers and public policy.

Contents of the report

  • Summary of key findings 
  • What does the evidence say?
  • How hard do people think they work? 
  • Are we working longer hours? 
  • Which employees are most likely to think they are working hard? 
  • What about other countries? 
  • Conclusion 
  • What are the potential explanations? 
  • Is it the recession? 
  • Is it because of technological change? 
  • Is it because employees feel they are losing control over their work? 
  • Is it down to poor management? 
  • Or is it a result of more effective people management? 
  • Or is it because we all just want more? 
  • Conclusion 
  • What are the implications?
  • What are the implications for employees? 
  • What are the implications for employers? 
  • What are the implications for public policy? 
  • Conclusion