UK employees working extra hours due to COVID

Over half of UK employers say their staff work additional unpaid hours every day.

A quarter (24%) of employers in a Cendex survey said this was down to the pandemic and its increase in remote working, which it said blurred the line between work life and home life.

The research found many employees were altering what time they are clocking on and off, with 67% of employers arguing the traditional nine-to-five is a thing of the past.

Cendex said HR professionals must adapt HR strategies such as reward packages and tailor them to the evolving needs of their employees.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder of HR consultancy 10Eighty said it is important employees feel comfortable speaking up if they feel overwhelmed by work.

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She said: “Employee health and wellbeing needs to be a top priority and stress needs to be addressed. Employees need to check in regularly and keep open communication. Schedule breaks throughout the working day to help refocus, boost productivity and reduce stress.”

Last week, the story of how an employee was banned from work for two weeks after their employer spotted signs they were suffering burnout went viral on LinkedIn.

Sarah Wan, a general manager from Singapore, posted a thank-you to her boss on LinkedIn for identifying how close she was to burning out, highlighting the importance of HR spotting burnout in its people.

Dating app Bumble also made headlines earlier this year when it announced it would be giving all its employees one week of paid, fully offline leave to combat burnout.

Sebag-Montefiore added: “It's important that everyone has the support they need to do their jobs and that leaders lead by example – to avoid burnout, employers must practice what they preach to maintain a happy, healthy team.”

Cendex managing director Scott Walker agreed, arguing overworking creates a toxic workplace culture which ignores employee wellbeing and leads to burnout.

He said: “Remote working has grown in popularity over the last year and while it’s a perfect fit for some, this data has shone light on a major pitfall of the initiative.

“The line between work life and home life is now blurred, resulting in a spike in working unscheduled hours. This will no doubt impact not only individuals’ wellbeing, but their performance and productivity at work too.”