Work Smarter, Not Harder


The pressure to perform well at work is nothing new. But it seems more women than ever may be close to burnout as they chase the pay-rise or promotion they duly deserve. According to a new survey, over three-quarters of women are working too hard, with almost a quarter admitting to being ‘burnt out’ or very overworked. However it’s not always extra hours that employers are after, but new skills, qualifications and attitudes. So, Belles, it seems it’s time for us all to work smarter, not harder!

The statistics, published this week by The Open University, reveal that employees believe that working longer hours is one of the best ways to earn a promotion or pay rise, despite being considered important by just one in ten employers. With just 15% of those questioned saying they were entirely happy with their career, the OU is urging Britons to make 2015 the year of their career by exploring more effective methods of career progression.

In improving economic conditions, 61% of women regularly work overtime, with 8% working at least an extra 40 hours per month; a full working week. So why is this, and how can we make sure we are rewarded for our hard work and get paid what we deserve?

The statistics suggest we should stop sweating over extra hours and instead offer our bosses new skills and qualifications. After questioning employers, it emerged that the majority said they were much more likely to notice employees who gain work-related qualifications through additional education, with nearly half (46%) saying this would make them more likely to offer a pay rise or promotion. Other things viewed favourably by employers were staff who went on training courses, met deadlines and targets and who were eager to learn new job skills.

In response to the findings, The Open University is releasing a Guide to Fast-Tracking Your Career – containing expert advice from its Careers Advisory Service to help people work smarter, without necessarily working harder

Despite further qualifications and training being so highly valued by employers, just 11% of female workers recognise the value of doing so it seems. Family, fun and finances all combine to take priority when it comes to planning a girl’s time. However, Keith Zimmerman, Director of Students at The Open University says it is now easy to fit a part-time course around other commitments, and urges women to do so in order to achieve their aspirations in the workplace.

He says: “The start of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of your career and make decisions to change it for the better. Our recent survey shows that people in the UK work very hard but some overlook the more effective means of achieving career goals.”

“For more than 40 years we’ve seen at the OU how part-time study can impact on careers, whether in terms of offering a boost, or even setting out on a new path entirely. We also hear from employers how our students are able to take the knowledge they have learned on their course and apply it directly in the workplace. With higher skills more important to our national economy than ever, now is the perfect time to think about whether you’ve got the right ones.”

* To download the free Guide to Fast-tracking Your Career, visit or for more information on courses call 0300 303 0068.

Emily Cleary

Emily Cleary

After almost a decade chasing ambulances, and celebrities, for Fleet Street’s finest, Emily has taken it down a gear and settled for a (slightly!) slower pace of life in the suburbs. With a love of cheese and fine wine, Emily is more likely to be found chasing her toddlers round Kew Gardens than sipping champagne at a showbiz launch nowadays, or grabbing an hour out of her hectic freelancer’s life to chill out in a spa while hubby holds the babies. If only!


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