By Daniel Hunter
British employees are working harder than they were one year ago according to research carried out by Randstad, the UK sector specialist recruiter.
Randstad looked at the latest full year results published by the twenty largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. The findings show that overall headcount has risen just 2.6% while overall revenue has grown 16% over the last twelve months.
As a result, revenue per employee rose 13% over the year suggesting staff have been more productive and have been working harder. In a separate survey of over 2,000 British employees working in businesses of all sizes, Randstad found that people feel they are working the equivalent of a six and a half day week in order to cope with increased workloads and reluctance from their employers to recruit additional staff.
On average, British workers feel they currently have to perform the job of 1.3 people meaning they are covering 30% more work than one person should be — the equivalent of one and a half additional work days every week. While a third of British workers feel their workload is suitable for one person, one in five (22.5%) feel that in an ideal world their role would need one full time and one part-time member of staff. 18% believe their role needs two full-time people to manage the level of work and 5% feel their role really needs at least two full-time members of staff as well as an additional one part-time person.
“It’s clear that uncertainty in the economy and public austerity is exerting more and more pressure on organisations to keep their workforces as lean as possible," Mark Bull, CEO of Randstad, said.
"While this will help many of them navigate the choppy economic waters we’re currently experiencing, it isn’t a sustainable model. The majority of British workers are employed in small and medium sized business where trimming headcount and reallocating work has a disproportionate impact on employee workloads compared to the largest companies.
"This goes someway to explaining why the annual rise in revenue per employee in the UK’s largest companies is just 13% while the majority of employees of UK PLC feeling they’re working 30% harder than last year.
“Making fewer people work harder can improve the bottom line initially, but spreading the workforce too thin leads to burnout, mistakes and lower productivity in the long-run. Not something the UK economy needs at the moment.”
The rise in workload is taking its toll on the British workforce. One in five workers (18%) feel more stressed now than they did six months ago, a third (31%) said it takes longer to switch off at the weekends than it did six months ago and one in ten (10%) have rows at home because of work worries or stress. Most worryingly for UK employers however, 11% of staff admit to making a mistake at work because of tiredness or stress.
Rising stress and work worries also mean that holidays are unable to provide suitable respite. One in ten (12%) feel unable to take holiday this summer because of work pressure. And while a third (33%) of employees have been able to take two or more weeks off work for their main holiday this year, only a quarter of all professionals feel their main holiday provides a complete break from work which they will benefit from. 19% of workers said their colleagues are expected to cover their role on top of their own work while they’re on holiday with 22% saying their colleagues were expected to do enough to ‘keep things going’. Only one in twenty (5%) said their work is covered for them by a temporary member of staff.
“Being able to take a break and switch off from work is vital for productivity," Bull added.
"However, the holiday season demonstrates just how stretched UK plc really is. The balance of controlling headcount costs versus the risks of a burnt out workforce making mistakes is tight at the best of times but during August the scales could tip at any time. Events such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and our athletes’ recent success at the Games can help to boost short-term moral and motivation but organisations need to keep those feelings going as long as possible.
"Using temporary staff to cover holidays, as well as bolstering lean teams during projects with interims or contractors, can be a flexible solution to ease the burden for all sides and keep an organisation’s permanent workforce more motivated, healthy and productive — a long-term benefit which far outweighs the short-term cost.”
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