Celtic Tiger did not improve quality of life

John O'Neill johnfergaloneill at eircom.net
Sat Nov 9 11:18:20 MST 2002

Celtic Tiger did not improve quality of life, study finds
By Gordon Deegan, in Ennis

  Seventy-seven per cent of respondents to a survey of workplace attitudes
said the economic boom, known as the Celtic Tiger period, had not improved
their quality of life.
According to the "Well-Being and Stress in the Workplace" study, almost half
of 344 respondents felt they were caught up in a rat-race, with one-third
saying they were tired most of the time, and more than a quarter complaining
of excessive stress levels.

The report was launched yesterday at a conference on values and ethics
organised by Céifin, an institute that studies societal change. The author,
clinical psychologist and organisational consultant Dr Miriam Moore, said
the report "offers a valid snapshot of the condition of the workplace in
Ireland today".

Céifin director, Father Harry Bohan, said the report was the first carried
out by the institute, and would be followed next April with a study of the
Irish family.

While 95 per cent of respondents said that what they value most were their
family and personal relationships "more than half of the respondents report
that they do not have a satisfactory balance between the demands of work and
the time they devote to their personal lives".

On employees' physical health, Dr Moore's report found that three-quarters
of those who work on personal computers four hours a day or more tended to
suffer from a variety of physical ailments. One-third of respondents
reported emotional problems. The report found excessive stress to be the
main detractor from job satisfaction and the biggest cause of absenteeism.

The study found "some 20 to 24 per cent complain of suffering great stress
from bullying, backbiting and other forms of aggressive behaviour and

It concluded that feeling undervalued was the principal cause of stress in
work relationships and this feeling was experienced by as many as two out of
five participants. In the report's recommendations, it says that for
employees, "it is precarious to place responsibility for one's happiness in
the hands of one organisation, so it is vital, therefore, rather than being
mere reactors in their workplace, people become pro-active and take more
responsibility for their own lives and well-being".

Earlier, Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, Prof
Robert Putnam, outlined the decline of community life in the US. The author
of Bowling Alone said that in recent decades US citizens had been dropping
out in droves, not merely from political life, but from organised life more

Prof Putnam told delegates that on informal social connections, US citizens
"spend less time in conversation over meals and exchange visits less often.
We know our neighbours less well and see old friends less often".

He added: "The ebbing of community over the last several decades has been
silent and deceptive." To facilitate renewed civic engagement, Prof Putnam
said "leaders and activists in every sphere of US life must seek innovative
ways to respond to the eroding effectiveness of civic institutions and
practices we inherited".

© The Irish Times

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