Today’s employees working less hard than previous generation

Ask any number of your office colleagues and the answer is bound to be
the same: British workers are facing tougher, longer hours than ever
before.

But a new report comparing jobs today with employment more than half a
century ago in fact shows exactly the opposite.

Despite a huge change in technology with the introduction of laptops
and Blackberry’s – and the resulting blurring of “boundaries between
work and non-work time” – most employees are working less.

In 1952, workers, on average did a 48-hour week. Today, a typical
worker with a full-time job does only 37 hours.

In addition, while just four per cent of people worked part-time in
the 1950s, today that number has ballooned to one in four workers,
equal to astonishing 26 per cent of the entire workforce.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the
world of work has fundamentally changed, but it is not a change which
is making us happy.
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Overall, the report says work continues to be “the warp and weft of
everyday life”, but we are just doing it very differently.

Referring to today’s employees, the report found: “The Queen’s
subjects may devote more of their available time to leisure but the UK
has not become the kind of ‘leisure society’ predicted by
futurologists of yesteryear.

“But if work is as much a central part of life as ever, work has
changed in ways that could not be imaged when Elizabeth II acceded to
the throne.”

Dr John Philpott, the report’s author and chief economic adviser to
the institute, said many workers in today’s more modern world “do not
seem much happier about their working lives” and exhibited “the
symptoms of work-related stress”.

He blamed the invention of new technology, from laptops to the
BlackBerry and the iPhone, which is ‘imposing entirely new pressures
on staff.’

While it has liberated people to work from home or from outside the
office, it has resulted in “information overload, created pressure for
an instant response, enabled more sophisticated monitoring and
surveillance of employees, and blurred the boundaries between work and
non-work time.”

The report found that it is the type of jobs that people do now which
has changed the most dramatically.

In 1952, 8.7million people worked in manufacturing. Today, the number
is just 2.5million.

Around 880,000 worked in ‘mining and quarrying’, compared to 60,000
today, while the number working in agriculture, forestry and fishing
has dropped from 725,000 to 460,000.

There are also some jobs which barely existed 60 years ago. In 1952,
there were only around 20,000 people working in personnel, compared to
today’s army of around 400,000.

Meanwhile, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits has
ballooned from around 350,000 to nearly 1.6million today.

And young people today are far less likely to have a job. People under
the age of 25 made up one in three of the workforce, compared to one
in seven today.

The report states: “In 1952 there were relatively few long-term
unemployed. At that time only one in ten of the registered unemployed
had been employed for more than a year; today the figure is one in six
people on Jobseeker’s Allowance.”

The CIPD report was based on official figures from the Office for
National Statistics and historical figures provided by old Government
department’s records.

By Daily Telegraph Reporter

1:46PM GMT 01 Feb 2012