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”, reveals data.
Analysis from Censuswide, commissioned by people analytics company Visier, comes during an uncertain economic market when businesses are “striving to do more with less”. The data also reveals that young professionals aged 25 to 34 feel most overworked, followed closely by those aged 55-plus.
Four in 10 (40%) employees would look for a new job with a better work-life balance if they felt overworked.
Of those surveyed, 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” with 40% of respondents stating their workload has led to feelings of anxiety while nearly a quarter (24%) said they have reached their mental limit.
Furthermore, the findings reveal that employees are not just feeling increasingly overwhelmed because of work. The cost-of-living crisis (61%) and family responsibilities (34%) were both cited as contributors.
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 while 15% said they are being asked to spend extra time in the week doing another person’s work for free.
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 economic crisis means that they are not willing to take the risk.
This serves as a stark reminder that business leaders and managers are under pressure to increase output to recession-proof businesses.
Employees were also asked what their employers could do to set them up for success and 39% revealed that moving to a four-day-working-week would be key, whereas 30% pointed to more flexible working, 37% compensation for the work they do, and 31% an early finish on a Friday.
Warning signal for employers
Ben Harris, director EMEA North, Visier, said: “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 burnout, or leave entirely.
“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.”
The polling was conducted by Censuswide between 6-13 March 2023 among 1,007 workers aged 18-plus across the financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, technology and energy and utilities industries).