Just when you might be depressed by the thought that work pressure only goes up, up, up and things only get worse, recent reports note the opposite only a few months ago in mutually confirming studies.
While it remains to be seen whether the current economic crisis will reverse this again, it’s reassuring to know things can improve. In the UK concerns about work stress seemed to be reaching an all time high when I spoke to their national HR group a couple of years ago. Recently the same group noted cautiously that work hours are falling and that this seems to indicate that individuals are exerting more control.
At the same time, Queen’s University’s Industrial Relations Centre highlights an international study of nearly 10,000 executives from the Journal of Applied Psychology (2008, Vol 93, #4, pp.789-805) showing some male and female managers achieve better work-life balance and, moreover, those who do actually have higher career advancement potential.
Interestingly, an HBR book published last May, Total Leadership, by Stewart Friedman, founding Director of Wharton’s Leadership Program, reinforces this, arguing convincingly that leaders can only improve their work performance by simultaneously improving in four areas of life – work, community, family and self. The subtitle: “Be a better leader; have a better life!” Balance!! Need I say it again?