Stressed managers seek clarity amid political upheaval

Managers across the UK have seen their stress levels soar over the last year as they contend with fears over Brexit and the news of a snap general election next month, according to a study published today.

The Chartered Management Institute found a sharp rise in the number of bosses who said they are more stressed and less motivated than a year ago. Picture: Jane Barlow

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) surveyed about 800 UK managers and found a steep rise in the number who say they are more stressed and less motivated than a year ago, at 41 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.

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The organisation said managers play a crucial role in the UK’s productivity but the past 12 months of political and economic upheaval has led to about half saying they have a greater workload and 34 per cent reporting that their quality of working life has declined.

Less than a fifth of respondents said they supported a so-called “hard Brexit”, while more than double that amount, at 43 per cent, believe a deal that secures access to the single market and freedom of movement of people as being the best outcome.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke said: “The Brexit referendum has clouded the UK economy with uncertainty and this has had a massive impact on the effectiveness of managers to deliver strong business performance.

“The quality of working life and health of managers is important, and uncertainty and stress is a productivity killer. We ask our political leaders to give UK managers clarity and invest in the skills they need to deliver.”

Managers’ top single priority for the next government was in fact securing trade deals with non-EU countries at 66 per cent, followed by keeping access to EU talent by guaranteeing the rights of existing residents at 58 per cent. Only about 20 per cent called for a reduction in corporate tax to be a top priority.

Turning to specific pressures from the forthcoming general election, the CMI found that about two in five said the decision to call this has had a negative impact on their organisation and caused more uncertainty.

Notably, the proportion of managers believing that the decision to call the election will have a negative impact on their organisation over the next 12 months exceeded those who think the effect will be positive, at 36 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.

Francke added: “Political leaders looking for a strong mandate from this election must consider the views of UK’s 3.2 million managers, who are key drivers of the UK’s productivity. All parties should focus post-election on the need to build an internationally competitive economy based on a world-class skilled workforce.”

IT security is also a growing priority for UK managers, particularly after the recent WannaCry ransomware attack. A separate survey published today by recruiter DHR International found that European firms are increasingly hiring chief information security officers with pay packets of over £850,000 as cyber security becomes a more important boardroom topic.