Business decline hits health of UK managers

Harder, faster, longer working conditions seriously affecting physical and emotional wellbeing

UK managers are working longer hours in more stressful conditions to cope with the recession, with serious effects on their physical and mental health, according to a new report comparing the wellbeing of managers in 2012 with those in 2007. The Chartered Management Institute/Simplyhealth report, The Quality of Working Life 2012, surveyed over 1,300 managers in 2007 and 2012 and paints a bleak picture of the impact of the recession on UK workplaces. Workers report having no choice but to work overtime and mental and physical wellbeing has declined for 12 of 13 key health indicators. Levels of stress, insomnia, feeling unable to cope and depression have all risen over the five-year period, while the majority of parents surveyed (63 per cent) are worried working long hours is damaging relationships with their children.

The average manager now works around 46 days unpaid overtime per year - working back more than one and half times the average annual leave entitlement, and up from 40 days in the 2007 study. Some 60 per cent of those working overtime feel they had no choice because of the volume of work, and 29 per cent worked long hours because job cuts had increased their workload. Managers are concerned about the adverse effects of these long hours, with 59 per cent worried about the impact on their stress levels and 54 per cent feeling they had a negative effect on their physical health.

Although 42 per cent of managers reported being in 'good' health, a substantially higher percentage of managers reported that their health had got worse in the last three months (28 per cent) than reported that their health had got better (6 per cent). Many of them displayed symptoms of stress or anxiety, with 61 per cent of managers suffering from constant tiredness (up from 58 per cent in 2007); 60 per cent suffering from insomnia or sleep loss (up from 55 per cent); 45 per cent feeling or becoming angry with other people too easily (up from 41 per cent);  33 per cent avoiding contact with other people (up from 25 per cent); and 30 per cent feeling unable to cope (up from 25 per cent).
Other key findings include:

  • Some 42 per cent of managers reported suffering from symptoms of stress in 2012 (up from 35 per cent in 2007) and 18 per cent reported suffering from depression (up from 15 per cent). The likelihood of managers reporting ill health increased on 12 of the report's 13 measures.
  • There is less tolerance to taking time off sick, with a significant increase in the proportion of managers who felt that their organisation had a culture of people not taking time off work, even when they were ill (from 32 per cent in 2007 to 43 per cent in 2012).
  • 'Presenteeism' is also on the rise - 43 per cent believe people didn't take sick leave even though they were ill, a marked increase from 32 per cent in 2007
  • Where 22 per cent of managers reported having viral infections, 57 per cent still went to work - a rise of 15 percentage points on 2007 figures. Only one in seven of the managers who reported symptoms of depression took any time off.
  • 35 per cent of managers describing themselves as having "too much work to do" and feeling "overloaded".
  • 36 per cent of the managers surveyed would leave if they thought they could find another job.
  • Job satisfaction has declined significantly from 62 per cent in 2007 to 55 per cent in 2012.
  • The percentage of managers who feel that they are working for declining organisations increased noticeably from 19 per cent in 2007 to 34 per cent in 2012.

CMI chief executive, Ann Francke, said of the findings:
"It's official: especially in a recession, authoritarian is out and empowering is in. It's more than just words - if you're a trusting manager and are good to your people you can reap big business rewards. If you're not, you're causing stress that is damaging the health of your people and the business."

Howard Hughes, head of employer marketing at Simplyhealth, said of the findings:
"We're now in a double dip recession, unemployment is high, consumer confidence is low and businesses and individuals are feeling the pinch. Meeting objectives in a tough economic climate can mean tough decisions need to be made and restructuring or other organisational changes are necessary. This is perhaps one of the reasons why managers and directors are working around 1.5 hours per day over their contract in 2012.

"When it comes to health and wellbeing in the workplace, illness levels have increased, but managers seem less likely to take time off work when they are genuinely ill. It looks like presenteeism is another symptom of high levels of organisational change. We'd urge all organisations to ensure they have programmes in place to encourage employees to be proactive about caring for their health - this kind of good management will increase productivity, and ultimately the bottom line."

The research examines the impact of different management styles on motivation and business success and identifies 'high trust' organisations, defined by high levels of trust among junior and mid-level managers and their bosses. Those working for high trust employers reported better management decision-making and better employee engagement - a key factor driving performance.

There were also big differences between the management styles of growing and declining business. Despite the fact that the most commonly reported management styles were bureaucratic (45 per cent), reactive (33 per cent), and authoritarian (30 per cent), growth firms are far more likely to have accessible, empowering, trusting and consensual senior managers. In organisations where the prevailing management style was seen as authoritarian, only 28 per cent of respondents were satisfied with their job, compared to 67 per cent of organisations where it wasn't.

Report author, Professor Les Worrall FCMI, Professor of Strategic Analysis in the Faculty of Business, Environment and Society at Coventry University, said:
"The scale and impact of change over the last five years has been staggering as all of our key measures from the survey have deteriorated markedly since 2007.  What is more worrying is that there seems to be no sign of economic conditions getting better - we are in for a worrying time if these trends persist into the future."

Professor Cary L. Cooper CBE, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School and co-author of the report, said:
"It is not surprising that the recession has led to more ill health among managers as they struggle to cope with heavier workloads, working longer and longer hours and looking over their proverbial shoulders for a sense of job security.  The massive rise of presenteeism, managers coming earlier and staying later at work, as well as coming to work when ill, is making the situation much worse".

For more information, download the executive summary and full report at, or join our 'Ask the expert' session on 19 July at 12-1pm at

Further information:
Harriet Fitzgerald / Robyn Landau
Telephone: 0207 010 0828 / 0207 010 0820
Email: /
Caroline Lakeman - or 0844 579 2274
Lynsey Thorp - or 0844 579 2266


About CMI
- The fieldwork for the study was conducted in May 2012 using CMI's membership database was used as a sampling frame.  A self-completion questionnaire was designed and e-mailed to 20,000 members of the Institute.  The project generated 1,334 responses (1,560 in 2007). The report's authors are Professor Les Worrall FCMI is Professor of Strategic Analysis in the Faculty of Business, Environment and Society at Coventry University and Professor Cary Cooper CBE CCMI is Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School.
- CMI is the only chartered professional body dedicated to raising standards of management and leadership across all sectors of UK commerce and industry. CMI is the founder of the National Occupational Standards for Management and Leadership and sets the standards that others follow.
- By setting minimum professional standards - built into our qualifications, membership criteria and learning resources - we recognise individual capability and give employers confidence in their managers' performance.
- As a membership organisation, CMI has also been providing forward-thinking advice and support to individuals and businesses, for more than 50 years. As the only organisation to offer qualifications from Level 2 (GCSE) to Level 8 (PhD), CMI is committed to equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge to be exceptional managers and leaders.
- "Qualifications and accreditations such as Chartered Manager, combined with products such as CMI's Continuous Professional Development scheme and the online support resource, ManagementDirect, support the development of management and leadership excellence across the UK.
- Through in-depth research and policy surveys of its 90,000 individual and 450 corporate members, CMI maintains its position as the premier authority on key management and leadership issues.

About Simply Health

- We became Simplyhealth in 2009 after bringing together HSA, BCWA, LHF, HealthSure, Totally Active, our   family of health companies have joined together over the last ten years to form Simplyhealth

- We've been providing healthcare solutions for 140 years, dedicated to serving our customers and patients through a variety of cash plans, dental plans, private medical insurance, self funded health plans and mobility and living aids 

- Simplyhealth is a trading name of Simplyhealth Access, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority Simplyhealth as it stands today, now covers nearly four million people with health plans (more than any other company) and helps 20,000 companies with their employees' health

- Simplyhealth is committed to making a positive impact on its communities. Each year, we donate over £1 million to  health related charities and causes


The information contained in these articles is intended to be for general interest, and should not be relied upon for specific conditions or complaints. You should always consult your GP or other healthcare practitioner for specific advice. The information provided is not the opinion of Simplyhealth and has been sourced through a third party.