January 7, 2016

New Year stress, productivity and pay

The return to work this month means high stress levels for many employees, just as the run up to Christmas was a stressful time for many. Why? Readjusting to being back at work again after having time off was cited as the biggest cause of stress (43%) by respondents to a survey by MetLife Employee Benefits.

A major headache is increased workloads – almost a third (31%) say the heightened stress levels are caused by having to tackle the backlog of work that wasn’t completed before the festive break. And a quarter of respondents feel under financial pressure as a result of Christmas spending.

Just 27% of employees are not stressed by the return to work in the new year, with older workers reporting the lowest levels of post-holiday stress.

Workplace stress is of course something that is rarely out of the news, particularly the HR news. Another piece of research has been released this month into workplace stress, this time focusing on email usage. According to the report ‘You’ve got mail!’, by the workplace research organisation, Future Work Centre, employees that check their work email outside of working hours have higher levels of stress.

People working in IT, marketing, PR, media and Internet sectors reported the highest levels of email-related stress. More than 65% of those the participants from these sectors say their email is always active and 30% receive more than 50 emails a day.

The news that productivity is expected to increase in 2016 will hearten many. Employment is predicted to rise by as much as half a million this year. Will pay packets rise as well? Opinion is divided on this issue. The Office for Budget Responsibility and the Bank of England predict that average earnings will increase by about 3.5% over the year. However, Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, thinks these forecasts are optimistic. He thinks pay is more likely increase by about 2%.

The salaries of CEOs is also in the headlines at the moment after a new study from the CIPD. ‘The View from Below: What employees really think about their CEO’s pay packet’, found that the remuneration packages for CEOs is a divisive subject for a lot of employees. The report found that 71% of employees think CEO’s are paid too much – either ‘far too’ or ‘too high’.

This perception of leaders being paid more than they should can be very damaging. Over half (55%) of employees polled said high executive pay has a negative effect on a company’s reputation, while 59% say it demotivates them at work.

The pay of CEOs in FTSE 100 companies has increased to 183 times that of the average employee, according to 2015 data from the High Pay Centre. Back in 1998, CEO in FTSE 100 companies was 47 times higher. That is a big increase and one that many employees are finding hard to stomach.

When asked what could be done to improve the connection between CEO pay and employee pay and organisational success, the research threw up some interesting results. More than half of the respondents (51%) think the ratio between CEO pay and that of the typical employee should be published. The same number think CEO bonuses and incentives should be reigned in and 62% think CEOs should pay back bonuses and incentives if the organisation’s performance declines.