Voice of the Employee

Over 60 per cent of PAs (Personal Assistants) in the UK are worried that workplace stress is affecting their health – with long hours, heavy workloads, disorganised bosses and being constantly ‘on call’ contributing to the pressure they feel.

Almost half (49.7%) of the PAs surveyed revealed that they feel they are constantly on call, with a further 8.6% claiming that they ‘sometimes’ feel like they are required to respond to their bosses outside of normal working hours.

In addition, a whopping 83% say that they check work emails in the evening, at weekends and on holiday, and over 66% believe that their bosses’ stress makes them feel similarly pressured and anxious.

Unsurprisingly, these issues mean that over 56% worry that they don’t have a healthy work/life balance, with over 57% concerned that they are at risk of ‘burn out’.

The survey of over 420 individuals also looked at the hours PAs and EAs are regularly working – with 33.4% working 9-9.5 hours each day and 11.5% working over 10 hours a day.

Meanwhile, when asked what one thing would help them to achieve a better work/life balance, over 60% responded that having the option to work from home or to have flexible hours would make a huge difference. Other solutions included:

  • Working fewer hours – 22.7%
  • Having a reduced workload – 11.7%
  • Getting extra support/staff – 11.7%
  • A shorter commute to work – 8.3%
  • Being able to have a lunch break – 4.1%

“Regular feedback from readers means that we were aware that today’s Personal and Executive Assistants often feel pushed to the limit regarding their working hours and their workload,” said Sarah Beall, MD of Forum Events & Media Group, the company behind PA Life and the PA Life Workplace Wellness & Wellbeing Summit. “But, following the survey, even we were surprised at the level of stress these individuals are placed under – and, worryingly, how many believe it is affecting their health.

“The days of PAs and EAs simply typing letters, taking notes in meetings and booking taxis are long gone. The role of today’s Assistants is very often an extension of that of their CEOs and Directors – organising company events, taking on HR responsibilities, booking overseas travel, running conferences and more. Like many in today’s working environment, they are also often expected to answer calls and emails in the evenings, weekends and when they’re on holiday. Sadly, these ‘office heroes’ are often undervalued too.

“The results of this survey are worrying, but we hope that this insight will also prove to be a turning point. We urge senior managers to recognise and celebrate the contribution of their PAs and EAs – and allow them to turn off their phones and emails, as well as consider allowing flexible working!

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