We've been doing a deep dive into some research we conducted last year on European productivity, and have more interesting insights to share. We initially found that UK businesses were struggling to close the productivity gap with their European counterparts, and that stress levels in British offices were soaring, leading to less family time. When we dug a little deeper into the age groups among the 3,000 office workers we surveyed across the UK, France and Germany, it exposed some unexpected findings. Among them the suggestion that with age not only comes wisdom, but also — potentially — greater resilience to extra demands and higher levels of productivity. 

The Wrike Digital Work Report 2016 was conducted in August 2016 among 3,000 office workers, with 1,000 respondents each in the UK, France, and Germany. It included respondents from five different age brackets, ranging from 18 to 24-year-olds and Millennials (25-34) through to those aged 55 and over.

It revealed that in most cases, work demands have gone up across Europe in the past year, although the UK saw the biggest variances between age groups. Over that period, 71% of UK Millennials said individual workloads had risen, compared to just 42% who said so from the oldest age bracket. In France and Germany it was more consistent across the board, ranging from 74% among Millennials and 65% among the over 55s in Germany, and 80% and 69% respectively in France.

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Millennials Feel Greatest Rise in Stress Levels

The study looked at the impact rising workloads have had on individuals and how different generations are coping with greater demands. Feeling more stressed was particularly experienced among Millennials, with 69% citing it as the biggest change because of those extra demands, compared to 54% among the over 55s.

Furthermore, a quarter of UK Millennials said they’ve taken more sick days because of it, compared to 13% among those 55 and over, perhaps suggesting there is greater resilience among the older workforce when it comes to having to juggle more tasks.

Worryingly, 14% of UK Millennials said they smoked more, compared to just 3% of over 55s. In France, almost a third (29%) of Millennials said they smoked more because of the extra demands placed on them over the last year.

Older Generation Feels Less Pressured Into Working Longer Hours

To meet those extra demands, 43% of UK Millennials that took part in the Wrike Digital Work Report said they believe their line manager expects them to work longer hours, compared to a quarter of over 55s who think the same. Furthermore, a fifth of Millennials think their manager expects them to take fewer holidays, compared to just 3% of over 55s.

It appears many UK businesses are turning to technology to address some of these disparities, and help younger workers manage their growing stress and workload. The report revealed that 55% of UK Millennials said the number of apps used at work has risen over the last year, something that is proving to have had a positive effect — 59% of Millennials said the adoption of digital tools has had a positive impact on their organization. Among the over 55s, 40% said the number of work apps had risen in that time, with just over half (51%) saying they felt digitalization was a good thing.

In our own experience, having a better sense of priority and focus helps people cope. It’s interesting that the research seems to suggest the older generation is not a generation of luddites, and that finding the right digital tools can help individuals and teams to work more efficiently.

Does any of this ring true either for you or those you work with? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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UK Businesses Are Struggling to Close Productivity Gap with Their European Counterparts
Less Family Time as Workloads and Stress Levels Soar in British Offices