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Workers reporting unmanageable workloads due to staff shortages

Jon Wilson - Totaljobs

As staff shortages continue to be an ongoing challenge both for businesses and staff, almost two fifths (38%) of workers are reporting “unmanageable” workloads, which in turn is having a knock-on effect on their wellbeing. In fact, almost half (46%) of workers want to see additional staff hired to ease the pressure of their workloads.

The latest statistics*, which offers an up-to-date view of the labour market and recruitment trends, shows that hiring confidence remained steady, with 53% of businesses confident they will recruit the people they need in the next three months (vs 54% reported in Q4).

Hiring trends over the last three months (January – March 2022)
The research found that 76% of businesses surveyed recruited in Q1 2022. 22% did not recruit in the last three months, consistent with the levels reported in Q4 2021.

The top three roles recruited for this quarter were operations (25%), IT/tech (21%) and sales (19%), with 6.04 weeks being the average time taken to hire, longer than the 4.3 weeks reported in Q4. The top three industries most likely to have increased recruitment in the past three months are hospitality & leisure (52%), retail (46%) and media/marketing/advertising/PR & sales (45%).

Looking ahead to the next quarter, 53% of businesses are confident they will recruit the people they need; a slight dip compared to 54% the previous quarter. With 38% of workers reporting that their workload is “unmanageable” due to staff shortages, it’s no surprise this is impacting their mental wellbeing and stress levels. In fact, when asked how their employer could help their wellbeing at work, almost half (46%) of staff want to see additional people hired to help make their workload more manageable. This request came in second only to a request for mental health days off (53%) to help boost their wellbeing.

According to Totaljobs’ latest Hiring Trends Index, staff retention (28%) and skills shortages (27%) were the top two issues facing businesses heading into Q2, followed by labour shortages (26%), staff absences (22%) and replacing staff (22%) following resignations.

Employee turnover accelerates and wellbeing decreases
The research found that a large majority (78%) of UK workers are experiencing burnout related symptoms[1] caused by work since the start of the year, as staff shortages and the rising cost of living start to take their toll. 60% said they felt tired or drained, 37% said they felt overwhelmed, and 36% said they have a cynical and negative outlook.

These burnout symptoms are set against a backdrop of increased financial anxiety amongst the cost-of-living crisis – which has reached a 30-year high. 57% of workers agree that they are worried their salary won’t go far enough to cover basic needs, such as household bills.

Recent Totaljobs research highlighted the impact the cost of living was having on the job market, and this is being reflected when it comes to staff turnover. Securing a higher salary within the same sector was identified by employers as the top reason why workers are resigning (26%), followed by securing a higher salary in a different sector (19%), and pursuing a more senior role (16%). Only 8% of workers said that their wellbeing would not affect their decision to leave their job, with over one in ten (13%) admitting that this has caused them to hand in their notice in the past. Over a third (36%) said that their stress levels would contribute to their decision to leave their job, highlighting the importance of having wellbeing support in the workplace to retain staff.

Employers ramp up support
40% of workers agreed that work was the biggest factor negatively impacting their mental health and wellbeing since the start of 2022. When asked what support they’d like to see from their employer, mental health days off came out on top (53%) followed by hiring additional staff (46%), more open conversations about mental health in the workplace (33%), introduction of wellness initiatives (32%) and the introduction of mental health first aiders (24%).

These concerns and needs have not gone unnoticed, with a quarter (25%) of employers surveyed expressing concern about the mental wellbeing of their staff. Heading into Q2, 23% are continuing to encourage staff to take time off to benefit their mental health, while 17% are training mental health first aiders. 16% are introducing wellbeing initiatives for the first time.

“It’s clear that the number of open vacancies is starting to be felt by workers – with many feeling the impact of an unmanageable workload. This, combined by the ongoing anxiety and strain caused by the cost-of-living crisis, means that the wellbeing of workers is a priority, and businesses need to do their bit to create an environment where people feel their voices are heard and their mental health cared for. While employers are making good strides in offering wellbeing initiatives, skills shortages mean that many workers will continue to feel the pressure of empty seats in their teams. As a result, employers will be focused on shortening their time to hire, while supporting existing staff who may be taking on higher workloads in the interim.”

*Totaljobs Hiring Trends Index

[1] https://mentalhealth-uk.org/burnout/

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