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Fifty-three percent of employees in the UK feel overworked

– More than half (53%) of employees in the UK feel overworked, citing factors like reaching their maximum capacity, being spread too thin, or stressing over the threat of additional work – according to new data from Censuswide, commissioned by people analytics company Visier.

More than half (53%) of employees in the UK feel overworked, citing factors like reaching their maximum capacity, being spread too thin, or stressing over the threat of additional work – according to new data from Censuswide, commissioned by people analytics company Visier.

The data – which comes during an uncertain economic market where businesses are striving to do more with less – reveals that young professionals aged 25-34 feel most overworked, followed closely by those aged 55+. And, whilst Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget outlined major policy changes to improve support for the workforce, businesses will need to do more for employees who expect better experiences from their employers and aren’t willing to settle. In fact, four in ten (40%) employees would look for a new job with a better work-life balance if they felt overworked.

Unbearable workloads
With many organisations slamming on the recruitment breaks amid broader market uncertainty, current employees are being asked to take on more responsibilities. 30% of respondents said they feel their employer has increased their work responsibility outside of their initial role, and 23% feel their employer expects or encourages them to pick up work outside of their remit. When asked about working hours, 32% said that their employer expects or encourages them to work outside of contracted work hours or to ask their line reports to do the same.

These additional tasks have created an environment where employees are reaching a breaking point.  40% of respondents stated their workload has led to feelings of anxiety, whilst nearly a quarter (24%) said they have reached their mental limit.

Furthermore, the data reveals that employees aren’t just feeling increasingly overwhelmed because of work. The cost-of-living crisis (61%) and family responsibilities (34%) were both cited as contributors. It’s not surprising therefore that employees feel they have good reason to participate in “bare minimum Mondays” – the practice of completing the least amount of work necessary to get through Monday, as a result of the constant pressure to be productive. The main reasons for partaking in “bare minimum Mondays” included seeing it as a good way to relieve stress (27%) and because preparing to go back to the work week led to increased feelings of anxiety (23%).

Some 39% also cited that they’d participate in “bare minimum Mondays” because they aren’t being compensated or appreciated for the extra work they do, whilst 15% said they are being asked to spend extra time in the week doing another person’s work for free.

Workers bear the brunt
Employees are increasingly looking to find solutions to solve their overloaded schedules. The data reveals that 60% of employees would love to find another job, but the cost-of-living crisis means that they are not willing to take the risk.

This serves as a stark reminder that whilst business leaders and managers are under increasing pressure to increase output to recession-proof the business. Improving team productivity isn’t just about the volume of work completed within a short space of time, but it’s about the working environment created to support those doing the work if businesses are to retain talent in an increasingly competitive market.

We asked employees what their employers could do to set them up for success, 39% revealed that moving to a four-day-working-week would be key, whilst 30% pointed to more flexible working, 37% compensation for the work they do, and 31% an early finish on a Friday.

“This data is a warning signal for employers attempting to buckle down and push for more from their employees.. For many, workloads no longer feel bearable, whether it’s directly related to additional responsibilities, or outside pressure. With business leaders under immense pressure to sustain output, it’s critical they establish a sustainable environment for their employees or risk seeing employees hit exhaustive levels or burn out, or leave entirely,” said Ben Harris, Director EMEA North, Visier.

“Doing more with less may be the economic reality of the moment, but it can come at a cost. There’s a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Businesses should take the time to understand how their teams are feeling, and engage employees in conversations about workload using workplace tools to gauge their stress levels. Leaders, including line managers, can then also work with individuals to reduce work-related exhaustion and provide support where it is needed most.”

Research methodology 

Censuswide, 2023
The research was conducted by Censuswide between 06.03.23-13.03.23 (1,007 workers aged 18+ with an even spread across Financial services, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Technology and Energy & utilities industries). Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.

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