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How the long-hours culture in the UK could be damaging business

Full-time managers and senior officials in the UK work some of the longest hours in Europe, according to recent figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). But is a long-hours culture really beneficial?

The ONS analysis revealed that full-time managers and senior officials worked on average for 46.2-hour week, but were only contracted for 38.5 paid hours - a difference of 7.6 hours. The TUC has estimated that this unpaid overtime translates into a boost of around £29 billion every year for the British economy, and has called on employers to do more to recognise the extra contribution made by many of their senior employees.

However, long hours don't necessarily translate into increased productivity. Recent Europe-wide research conducted by Eurostat has demonstrated that those countries where workers put in the most hours don't necessarily top the league when it comes to being productive at work. Research in the UK has shown that a long-hours culture can in fact often be counter-productive in terms of worker productivity and detrimental to work-life balance, health and safety.

Flexible working can offer businesses a way of balancing their requirements with the needs of their staff and can help to improve productivity and employee engagement. Acas offers help with all aspects of people management, as well as advice and guidance on flexible working.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions page for more information.

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