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Hardworking British workforce suffering from fatigue and apathy survey finds

The study found Brits regularly work over their contracted hours, sacrifice social and family arrangements and sometimes come home from work exhausted.

The study, which paints a mixed picture of a hardworking UK workforce but one that is suffering from fatigue and apathy, is published by the business consultancy Lansons, and conducted by insight agency, Opinium Research.  Two online surveys containing approximately 2,000 employees in each across the UK working population from a range of industries were conducted to look at how British workers feel about their workplace, from pay and progression to the size of their desk.

Under pressure and over worked

A third (30%) of British employees feel they don’t have enough time to do their job effectively with many (87%) going the extra mile for their employers, with the average overtime being 1 hour and 20 minutes on a typical day, and 3% working more than 5 hours extra per day.  Workers are also missing out on down time sometimes by not even taking their full lunch break (31%) and some regularly having to cancel social/family events (17%), while one in six (16%) have missed a holiday because of their job. 

The report also highlights a significant difference between the experience of younger workers and older workers. A larger percentage of 18-34 year olds feel they don’t have enough time to do their job effectively (33 %) compared to 27% of those aged 55 or over. They are also the group most likely to cancel holidays, (19%), and social/family events because of work (21%), compared to 12% and 11% of over 55s respectively. This group is also more likely to be exhausted by work with 36% of 18-34 year olds saying they are regularly too tired to enjoy life after work, while a quarter (25% ) turn up to work too tired to do their job properly compared to 27% and 10% of those aged 55 or over respectively .

Of those who have worked past their set hours, the majority of overtime is spent working late (67%), although one in six (16%) say they typically work their extra hours at the weekend. Employees earning high salaries of over &pound50,000 a year appear to work the most overtime, averaging two extra hours on a typical day. The education industry reported the highest overtime with one in five (19%) stating they always work past their set hours in a typical working day.

All this against a backdrop of the latest international comparisons from the ONS  which states that UK workers produced, on average, between 27% and 31% less per hour than workers in France and Germany in 2013.

Is the “no raise” culture finally over for workers?

On the upside, the Britain at Work Study has found that we may be seeing a move away from the “no raise” landscape with 55% of workers reporting pay rises in the last year, while four in ten (44%) feel they are getting paid fairly.

However, 28% of employees feel senior leaders are paid unfairly in relation to the work they do, and this rises to 39% in the Civil Service and Government, and 39% in the healthcare sector. This resentment is no doubt heightened by the fact that one in five (22%) British workers cannot name the head of their organisation.  Also, from recent research conducted a similar proportion of workers, 18%, also don’t trust their CEO.

Job security and pride in the workplace

Generally Brits note that they like most of their work colleagues (74%) and 60% think their working environment is a good place to be, while two-thirds (65%) feel their jobs are as secure they can be. Yet, overall, pride in the organisation is patchy while almost half (48%) of employees are proud of where they work, around a third, equivalent to 10 million people**, are completely disengaged or “passive” and 39% would leave tomorrow if they had another job offer.  Subsequently, half of the workforce (51%)*would not actively recommend their workplace for others to come and work.

Drilling down into specific industries, Chemicals/ Heavy industries (including Mining and Energy ) is the industry that has the lowest level  of pride with 25% of employees saying they are not proud of their industry, compared to just one per cent in the third sector. 

Scott McKenzie, Director of Lansons’ Change & Employee Engagement practice comments: “The Britain at Work Study highlights some great success but it is not good enough.  A prouder, more engaged UK workforce would surely be more productive and profitable, adding significantly to the UK economy. Employers need to do more to engage the workforce, but employees also have their part to play in bringing themselves to work.”


While workers’ relationships with managers are broadly positive (63%), just over a quarter (28 %) don’t feel their manager is committed to helping them develop in their career and a just over a quarter (28%) feel their manager doesn’t regularly monitor their performance or offer enough feedback.

Opportunities for career progression and training are an area we need to improve 48% see no/little opportunity to progress and a fifth (20%) say their training opportunities are poor.

James Endersby, Managing Director, Opinium Research, comments: “The UK is in a great position and this surely provides a major opportunity for employers to unlock the UK’s full potential. If this apathy can be converted into engagement then we can transform the working experience for individuals and therefore the performance of an organisation”

So what can businesses do? Scott McKenzie, Director of Lansons’ Change & Employee Engagement practice advises: “In our view the report highlights some important actions for both for employees and employers, including creating and increase training and development opportunities, providing a safe and pleasant working environment, implementing people friendly policies, implementing appropriate recognition and reward schemes, providing fair pay, and ensuring clear and consistent two-way communications. However there is only so much line managers, leaders and organisations can do. The rest is about all of us taking increased, individual responsibility. Based on the insights from the study and our experience working with many complex organisations who are facing these issues we are well placed to advise and support.”

Find the full Lansons Britain at Work Study here.


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