Employees are putting in longer hours than five years ago, according to a poll by Right Management, the talent and career management experts within ManpowerGroup. Nearly four out of five surveyed workers said their organization’s employees spend more time on the job since the recession began in 2008. As many as 67% said they are spending “a great deal” more hours at work.

Longer hours without a focus on engagement and motivation run the risk of driving disengagement. Employee engagement has been a longstanding focus for both HR and senior management. With streamlined operations, continued fiscal belt tightening, and a workforce that is disgruntled and overly stressed, engagement is receiving a heightened focus. Leaders are recognizing that in the Human Age talent is the only source of sustainable competitive advantage.

“Leaders need to have courageous conversations with their employees to ensure better alignment between the work their people are doing and the company’s overall strategic objectives,” advised Matt Norquist, General Manager of Right Management’s northeast region.

“There are times when deadlines or projects command longer hours”, observed Norquist. “But leaders need to connect the intensity of workloads with dialogue that aligns the work with individual employees’ ambitions, and the organizations’ broader strategic objectives”.

Recent polls by Right Management have identified the growing pressure on workers today. The data shows they rarely leave their desk for lunch. They respond to emails from the boss at all hours. They are not taking all their vacation time. And when others are laid off the work they did must be shared by the remaining employees.

The online poll of 325 employees was conducted between August 16 and September 15.