Managers in the IT sector are overworked, put business ahead of family, and work within a negative culture, according to a survey released today by the Chartered Management Institute and Adecco, the global leader in HR solutions. The Business Energy Survey questioned over 1,500 managers across the country and found businesses failing to understand the needs of their most important assets and workplace energy dropping dangerously low.

The Business Energy Survey, conducted in May 2004, assessed the attitudes, motivations and aspirations of managers. The key findings were:

Seven day working week - 1 in 3 managers in the IT sector work an extra 14 hours more than they're paid for, effectively equating to a seven day week. And 55 per cent feel that they are overloaded with work

No energy for family life - 56 per cent admit to missing family commitments because of work pressure

Negative energy - over one-quarter think their organisation has an 'authoritarian' culture with 34 per cent feeling exploited. 40 per cent believe that their organisations responds to change in an ad hoc, haphazard way

Purpose not pay - Managers in this sector appear happy to work long and hard if they are given a sense of achievement in their work. 54 per cent class 'sense of purpose' as the biggest motivating factor. 31 per cent see pay as the main motivator, compared to a national average of 12 per cent

New ways of working - 45 per cent want flexible working initiatives like compressed working weeks but only 3 per cent believe that these will ever happen

The report shows that volume of work has adverse effects on employee energy levels. In the IT sector, 49 per cent admit to having no energy on weekday evenings because of work and 37 per cent admit to using the weekend solely to recover from work. However, many seem happy to work extra hours providing they feel a sense of purpose in their work (54 per cent) and are helped to achieve their goals (66 per cent).

"This research highlights that energy levels amongst managers in the IT sector are dangerously low," said Richard Macmillan, Managing Director of Adecco UK and Ireland. "However, it's clear that employees are not afraid to work at this level providing their ideas are heard and they can be made to feel valued, empowered and are allowed to work more flexibly. Companies need to sit up and address this before it's too late."

Many managers in the IT sector feel that there is a negative management style operating in their organisation with most crying out for open and receptive management but not getting it. 29 per cent believe the prevailing management style is bureaucratic, and 22 per cent believe it is reactive, compared to 34 and 31 per cent nationally. Despite the time and effort spent by managers in trying to develop effective communications strategies, less than one-third of respondents expressed satisfaction with the communications.

Mary Chapman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, says: "It's easy to see why frustrations exist. The pace of change and a desire to reduce costs has had major implications on working patterns in many organisations, but all too often these are not communicated effectively and they take their toll through longer working hours and a drained workforce. Part of the problem lies in senior management believing one thing about morale, when those closer to the coal-face have vastly different experiences. It's only when people begin to feel a close, and meaningful, involvement with their organisation that they bring energy, enthusiasm and passion to their work. And when that happens the end result is often seen in greater drive, productivity and results."

The survey shows a real desire from managers to develop new flexible ways of working. The most popular idea is to introduce compressed working weeks (45 per cent) and career breaks (39 per cent). However, despite the enthusiasm for these new flexible benefits few people (3 per cent respectively) believe these will ever be brought in by their organisations.

"Businesses need to spend more time talking with their managers and listening to their concerns and new ideas. Many of us may be working into our late 60s and 70s so companies that embrace flexible ways of working are more likely to keep people motivated and enthusiastic about their jobs," adds Chapman.

Recruitment is clearly a problem for many businesses surveyed. Almost a third of the respondents cited 'difficulty in recruiting the appropriate staff' as a reason why new working practices had been introduced.

"It is no wonder many organisations have trouble finding and keeping the right people given what we've found here," said Richard Macmillan. "The atmosphere they are creating inside their businesses is not the positive, proactive, empowering culture where most would aspire to build their careers. By listening to and embracing new ideas companies can retain their best staff and build a reputation that attracts new talent."

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