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What goes up must come down? Working hours, workload and the work-life imbalance of PGA members

What goes up must come down? Working hours, workload and the work-life imbalance of PGA members Dr. Steve French Keele University. Overview. First findings of survey conducted on behalf of PGA into working-time, workload and work-life balance

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What goes up must come down? Working hours, workload and the work-life imbalance of PGA members

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  1. What goes up must come down? Working hours, workload and the work-life imbalance of PGA members Dr. Steve French Keele University

  2. Overview • First findings of survey conducted on behalf of PGA into working-time, workload and work-life balance • The approach to the topic of work-life balance and the focus upon overall findings (aggregate) • Austerity and the public sector context • The survey – methods and representativeness • Results - working hours, workload and the work-life balance

  3. Work-life balance and industrial relations Daniels and French (2006) argue: Research into the work-life balance is difficult to categorise, precisely because of the different foci of those studying the subject….we argue that there is a need to examine the work-life balance in respect of workload, workload determination and the impact of work upon (all) workers’ lives outside of work. This, consequently, redefines the study of the work-life balance into a more familiar analysis of ‘the processes of control over work relations’ (Hyman, 1975:12)…. Thus, the study of the work-life balance falls within the traditional sphere; the study of the frontier of control (Goodrich, 1920) and the mechanisms of job regulation: formal and informal, internal and external (Flanders, 1965).

  4. The prison governor in the public sector context Multiple and conflicting roles of governors (Bryans, 2007) • Fresh Start (1987) changes to working practices • Fluctuations in ‘core’ aims and in management structures • Privatisation and market testing • New Public Management • Fair and Sustainable (2012) Austerity • Extension of benchmarking programme based upon reducing costs of public sector prisons ‘by fundamentally reforming the way we work’ (MichealSpurr cited in Guardian, 2014) Working hours and workload • Guardian coverage in June and July 2015 of the problems faced by prison governors

  5. The PGA Survey 2015 • Web-based survey run July-August 2015 • 421 complete responses (40.3% membership) • Responses received from all regions, from establishments and HQ, all grades, mixed terms and conditions • 49.9% of sample have no caring responsibilities • Key issues of representativeness of surveys • High response rate • Gender: male 72% - female 28% (73:27% PGA data) • Age – skewed towards ‘younger’ members (aged 20-50) • Under-represents grade 7 (based on 20154 NOMS data)

  6. Key aggregate findings from 2015 survey Increasing hours • 57.2% of respondents work, on average, between 38 and 48 hours, More worryingly, 41.3% work over 48 hours per week • 53.2% state their working hours have increased over the past year Increasing workload • 81.9% state that their workload has increased over the previous year, while only 1.9% of members have seen a decrease in their workload. Work-life Balance • 56.5% of respondents sometimes experience difficulties in achieving a WLB, but 32.5% found it difficult to achieve a balance at all. Stress • 46.3% of all respondents suffer stress at least 50% of the time; • 61.0% claim they have suffered stress-related ill health

  7. Reasons for long working hours

  8. Reasons for long working hours • ‘Due to increased pressures at all grades a significant part of my day is providing one to one support to staff that are struggling and picking up work that should be completed by lower grades who seem to have unachievable workloads themselves.’ • ‘I have been working beyond 37 hours for the last three years. Reduced staffing levels and trying to deliver my functional duties alongside high demands of an operational nature all impact.’ • ‘Workload has remained high since benchmarking which is over 12 months ago’ • Staff Sickness amongst my managers in my department means I am also picking up their workload and HR issues • The expectation that when subordinate managers are not available, their workload will be picked up and delivered to a comparable standard.

  9. Perceptions of work

  10. The spill-over from high workload

  11. Availability, use and usefulness of policies

  12. Why not use flexible working practices?

  13. Why not use flexible working practices • ‘The response to any suggestion of an excessive workload is to just get on with it’ • ‘The expectation that everybody is in the same position and you cannot complain about it as not the corporate thing to do.’ • ‘It feels like you are saying you can't do your job.’ • ‘Quality of stress management training poor - perfunctory. Same with counselling schemes. Objective setting is flawed, in part due to inadequate annual staff reporting scheme.’ • ‘Working from home… this method of managing your workload is not seen favourably by colleagues or managers’ • ‘Agreeing objectives is available and does take place however workloads are increased by ad-hoc work being piled on by managers’

  14. Addressing workload issues

  15. Consequences: stress and ill-health Do you feel that your employer helped you to cope with the causes of stress? No 61% Have you ever been so tired or pressured at work that you have made a serious error? Yes 10.5% Have you ever experienced being managed under the sick monitoring procedures? Yes 13.1%

  16. Experiences of sickness absence procedures • ‘Good, with good line management support and a flexible back to work plan.’ • ‘Was well supported by my manager but pressure applied to get back to work earlier than sick note given by Hospital.’ • ‘Poor and not very well managed, not very well supported or offered any other support mechanisms.’ • ‘Confusing as the two managers involved had varied opinions as to how to manage it and contradicted each other and what I understood of the absence management policy’ • ‘Not supportive, a threatening experience to get you back to work without actually dealing with the possible root cause of the stress’ • ‘Not followed. I think because Iam a manger it was taken less seriously and almost brushed over.’

  17. Typical stories Increasing workloads due to resourcing issues are creating more stress in the workplace and this coupled with a line manager who has unreasonable expectations and a lack of understanding results in an untenable position. Of my current SMT half are looking to leave The Prison Service including myself. WLB schemes are available but I have sat in meetings with HRBPs, the DDC and governors who talk about the 'special people' who have managed to get themselves onto reduced hours or part time, they refer to it as a huge hindrance to the organisation. As somebody who has caring responsibilities for both of my young children and my partner I find it quite disgraceful that the senior leaders within the organisation quite openly behave in this way towards that staff that are juggling and trying to achieve WLB.

  18. Typical stories (2) The quality of my work is becoming a concern for me personally due to the increase in quantity. Time for thinking and planning is reduced Development opportunities are reduced There is no cover when I am not at the Establishment for my work Teams are shrinking when demand is increasing and I ma conscious of the stresses I am placing my team under It is not only the length of time spent at work but the unrelenting pressures that exist while there. It is possible to work under pressure for short, time-bound periods but not for months on end, and not without any improvement in sight. There is no work-life balance. I arrive at work at 0600hrs and leave at 1800hrs each day, not to mention travelling an hour to and from work each day. Yet we do not receive appropriate pay or recognition for this work.

  19. Conclusions • The survey paints a depressing picture of increasing working hours and workload across the PGA membership, with few opportunities for PGA members to benefit from their increased productivity and an absence of effective mechanisms for members to be able to regulate their workload • Non availability or applicability of policies to address workload and evidence of a culture where the expectation is to ‘get on with it’ • The increases in workload identified frequently with staffing levels and the loss of control over, andineffective regulation of, workload create problems for many members in securing meaningful a work-life balance, with work increasingly encroaching upon life and in the leading work-related stress and causing ill-health.

  20. Representativenessby gender, age, and grade

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