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Stephen  Bevan

Is work ruining our lives?

Authors: Stephen Bevan Stephen Bevan

28 July 2010

On Wednesday 21 July, I chaired the 4th Annual Relate Lecture given this year by its new President, Professor Cary Cooper of the University of Lancaster. Speaking on the topic Is Work Ruining Our Lives? Professor Cooper presented a series of compelling arguments – based on substantial research evidence – that work was becoming more intense, that the problems of ‘stress’ at work were getting worse and that so-called ‘presenteeism’ – the subject of a recent research report from The Work Foundation - was also on the increase. He argued very powerfully that this situation was both costly and unsustainable and that good quality relationships – both at home and at work – were crucial if we were to improve people’s resilience. Professor Cooper, who played a leading role in the Foresight Report on Mental Capital drew specific attention to the central role which line managers play in promoting a climate of psychological wellbeing.


In the session which followed, members of the audience raised questions about work-life balance, long hours working, the damaging impact of e-mails on the boundary between work and life and the role of stress in the post-recession economy. Finally, Professor Cooper joined the call for the annual reports of public limited companies to include – by law – a report showing levels of stress-related absence, job satisfaction and other measures of human capital.

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