By Claire West

According to employee research specialists ORC International, 90% of workers consistently say they are prepared to ‘go the extra mile’ at work and 79% regularly suggest ideas to improve ways of working. Despite this, around one third of all employees say they find it difficult to strike the right balance between work and home life and even more — 38% — struggle overall with their workloads.

The figures are published in ORC International’s annual Putting it in Perspective Report, which compares trends and sector differences in employee engagement over the past 11 years. The report is based on data from more than 350 organisations, making it one of the largest employee survey databases in the UK.

Crucially, one of the trends highlighted in the report, was that the struggle to maintain the right work/life balance is hardest for those workers with line management responsibility. Only 59% of line managers feltthey had this under control, compared to 72% of all other employees. The burden of discretionary effort is therefore particularly heavy for line managers, who are inclined to work even longer hours if they feel uncertain about job security.

Kate Pritchard, Director of Employee Research at ORC International, says: “Line managers are pivotal to the entire organisation. They are responsible for supporting the employees they line-manage, and for bridging the gap between employees and senior management. Employee trust in line managers is vital because of the important role they play in shaping employee perceptions of the organisation as a whole.”

She added: “Organisations need to make sure there are measures in place to support line managers. They need proper training to fulfil these extra responsibilities, which are undertaken alongside regular duties. Although it’s important for organisations to be able to harness individual’s good will and discretionary effort during times of uncertainty, it is vital to do this in a sustainable way which looks after the wellbeing of all employees.”

It is clear from the Putting it in Perspective report that organisations still have some way to go in providing these additional skills to line managers. Although the number of employees who feel their line manager communicates well with them has increased gradually since 2008, there are still more than a quarter of employees who feel this is not the case, or who feel line managers do not provide enough recognition or encouragement. Fewer than one third of employees feel motivated or inspired by their managers.

“Employers need to get good insights into what drives engagement within their organisations, and then they should work with theirline managers to improve these factors. Supporting line managers to ensure they are equipped to lead an engaged, healthy workforce, is vital,” says Pritchard.