21 Nov, 2012

Burnt-out Britain

Britain’s workforce is heading for a well-being meltdown, according to research from global professional services firm, Towers Watson. The Global Workforce Study (GWS), which surveyed 32,000 employees worldwide, reveals that more than one in three UK employees (34 per cent) say they are often affected by excessive pressure in their job. Over half (58 per cent) said that they have been working more hours than normal over the last three years and half expect this to continue for the next three years.

From pay cuts to longer working hours, the GWS highlights the demands on workers that the recession has brought about, with only half (53{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) of UK workers feeling their stress levels at work are manageable. Despite increasing requirements for businesses to provide workers with advice on health and well-being, just a third (31 per cent) of employees feel that their senior leaders support such policies.

According to the research, British workers feel a need to display their commitment to the job as more than a quarter (26 per cent) have not been using as much holiday or personal time off over the last three years. This coincides with a trend for cutting workforce numbers, leaving one in five employees (22 per cent) feeling that the amount of work they are asked to do is unreasonable with around a third (30 per cent) believing their organisation is under-resourced.

Results for the UK were broadly in line with those seen across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) with similar numbers of workers feeling that there was excessive pressure, longer working hours and fewer resources available in the workplace.

Charles Fair, senior engagement and well-being consultant at Towers Watson, said: “This research raises huge concerns over our country’s health and well-being at work. Several years of economic uncertainty have led to increased anxiety around job security with workers putting in longer hours than ever, raising concerns of ‘burn-out’ amongst British workers. Businesses should act now to avoid a ‘work until you drop’ culture turning into the norm with workers becoming increasingly unproductive, something our economy can ill-afford at the moment.”

Towers Watson has also identified a clear link between the levels of well-being and engagement in a company’s workforce and organisational performance. Its Global Employee Research Database* shows that organisations with low engagement produced an average operating margin of around 10 per cent while organisations with high sustainable engagement performed nearly three times better with operating margins of over 27 per cent.

Charles Fair said: “Our employee research findings put the GWS results into sharp focus. If employees are overworked and stressed then their levels of engagement, morale and well-being are correspondingly low and this can have a real impact on the bottom line for many organisations. Understanding employees’ needs and putting in place a thorough health and well-being strategy can pay dividends for organisations of all sizes.”

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