Headlines: July 9th, 2001

Public sector workers experience more stress than those working in the private sector. This is the finding of a study of managers across eight European countries sponsored by IT company Nextra. The study found that 42% of public sector staff work 45 hours or more per week, compared with 25% across all UK sectors. Employees said there was a direct connection between working long hours and stress. While 63 per cent of private companies used flexible teleworking giving staff remote access to IT facilities in the office as a way to reduce pressure, only 40 percent of public bodies provided remote access.Public sector union UNISON is continuing its campaign to reduce stress caused by call center working – see Publicnet 19 June 2001. Call center technology gives management an unrivalled opportunity to monitor staff performance throughout the working day or night. UNISON has found that monitored workers reported higher workloads, decreased job satisfaction, more supervisory-relations problems and less skill use. Monitored workers also reported more boredom, tension, anxiety,depression, anger and fatigue than non-monitored employees, as well as more stress-related illnesses. The union calls for management to use the monitoring facility in ways that help staff and encourage better performance rather than as a means of discipline or intimidation.