UK workforce consistently overworked despite high levels of flexible working

UK employees are having to work harder to pay the bills, with the vast majority (91%) working beyond their contracted hours on a weekly basis and almost half (43%) not leaving the office or taking a break at lunchtime according to Morgan McKinley’s Working Hours and Flexibility reports. 

The survey of 1,500 professionals, employed in professional services, banking and financial services or commerce and industry, revealed that 17% work beyond their contracted hours by ten hours or more on a weekly basis to meet deadlines and cope with workloads. 31% of employees feel it is expected of them to work overtime, yet they are not rewarded, with only 10% stating they receive compensation for the extra hours.  

62% of respondents outlined that they are available on mobile devices outside working hours, checking emails first thing in the morning, stay online commuting home and in the evening. 55% of the UK workforce expect flexible working when looking for a new job. 65% are offered flexible working by their current employer, with 84% of that proportion making use of the opportunity.

David Leithead, Chief Operations Officer at Morgan McKinley UK, commented: “The way in which we all work has changed dramatically. Employees have increased access to flexible working but end up working a greater number of hours every week. It is becoming a widespread dilemma. ”

David continued: “Employees often don’t take any kind of lunch break but feel obligated to work beyond their contracted hours. When they finally leave the office, they feel they should be available on mobile devices. This feeling of ‘not being able to down tools’ can negatively affect an employee’s wellbeing, causing mental burnout. The Labour Party believes introducing a four day working week could restore balance in our lives whilst maintaining productivity levels – our survey findings suggest professional workers would support such a policy. Unsurprisingly, business groups are skeptical. Whilst this may not be the best solution, it is crucial that employers recognise the issue of overworking and manage it appropriately.”

The survey showed that 78% of respondents believe flexible working has had a positive impact on their company’s performance and profitability, as well as highlighting how it is beneficial for the employees with improved staff wellbeing. These well recognised benefits to both business performance and employee wellbeing make it doubly important that companies manage the flexible proportion of their workforce effectively. When asked what they thought was the biggest downside to flexible working, a ‘less engaged workforce’ was the most frequent response (39%).

David Leithead added, “Businesses need to ensure they overcome the hurdle of engaging the remote proportion of their workforce and closely monitor whether they are working excessive hours. It’s vital to deploy tools for chat, video and virtual meetings, as well as regularly hosting team time so those flexible workers aren’t forgotten. Strategies have to be put in place that are aimed at both employees and their management in order to harness the benefits of flexible working patterns. ”

About the survey:

The majority of respondents work across Banking & Financial Services, Professional Services or Commerce & Industry within Accounting & Finance, Compliance, Financial Services Operations, HR, Internal Audit, IT, Legal, Marketing, Office Support, Projects & Change Management, Public Practice, Risk Management, Sales, Supply Chain & Procurement and Tax. 

48% of respondents were male, 51% female and the remaining 1% selected ‘prefer not to say’. Three quarters were permanently employed (74%), 21% were temporarily employed and the remainder (5%) were either self-employed or unemployed. 63% of respondents work in London, 37% outside London.

The highest proportion of these respondents were at mid-management level (39%), followed by operational/executive (25%) and senior management (18%) – the remainder consisted of entry level, C-Suite and those who didn’t want to disclose their seniority.

Author: Editorial Team

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