Almost half of parents work overtime to cope with workload

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A third (33%) of employees say doing unpaid overtime is part of their organisation's culture

Almost half (42%) of working parents put in extra hours at work to deal with their workload, according to research by charity Working Families.

The report found that for a third (33%) of staff doing unpaid overtime is part of their organisation's culture. A quarter (27%) said their manager expects it of them.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, warned that this attitude could be harming productivity in the workplace. "In the UK we have some of the longest working hours in Europe, with more than one in 10 employees putting in more than 50 hours each week,” she said. "But business success is about productivity, not impressive timesheets, so it's worrying that our survey showed many working parents feel a cultural pressure, or direct pressure from their manager, to stay late.

"The irony is that the evidence shows if you allow your employees more flexibility over how and where they work their morale and productivity increases. It's better for families and better for business.”

Nikunj Upadhyay, chief of staff for diversity and inclusion and multigenerational lead at Barclays, suggested that employers revise their attitudes to flexible working.

"One of our strategic priorities is to be seen and experienced as a great place to work,” she said. “And the feedback we get from colleagues shows a direct link between flexible working and people feeling more engaged. That has a knock-on effect with productivity and staff retention, so we actively seek to create an environment that's flexible and inclusive.

"At Barclays we're trying to evolve to the next level of flexible working. We call it dynamic working. It's about integrating your professional and personal life and defining your own working arrangement."

Working Families is encouraging organisations to take part in National Work-Life Week from October 3 to 7, and to start exploring more agile and flexible ways of working.

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