According to the Economist (see Overstretched), the recession has put far greater demands on those employees who were lucky enough to keep their jobs but, as a result, have had to fulfil the responsibilities of those who left. The Corporate Leadership Council reports that "the average ‘job footprint’ (what a worker is expected to do) has increased by a third since the beginning of the recession." While initially there may have been a fair amount of enthusiasm to pull together in order to get through the crisis, it seems that the joke is now running thin. According to a Hay survey, "63% of workers say that their employers do not appreciate their extra effort. And 57% feel that employees are treated like dispensable commodities. Half report that their current level of work is unsustainable. People are wearying of frantic reorganisation as well as the added toil—floods of memos and meetings, endless reshuffles, the exhortations to do more with less." Apparently, "59% of its sample are either considering leaving or actively looking for a new job—and more than 85% of those who are not in the job market are staying only because that market is so dismal."
This is, of course, a time bomb. Well before the recession, I noticed how my corporate clients were working far harder than I was and in much more frustrating circumstances. From the outside you got the distinct impression that much of this increased activity was unproductive, the blind leading the headless chickens. You can only live on adrenaline, coffee and alcohol for so long. Eventually it will be pay back time: illness, melancholy, fraught relationships and lack of motivation. Frantic activity is not a sign of good management; high productivity is, and that can only be sustained in the long run through properly balanced lifestyles, fulfilling jobs and supportive management.