Workplace resilience is reaching a tipping point

In a recent survey carried out by Michael Page, insights from 2,000 UK workers spanning various sectors shed light on the overloaded nature of the modern workplace. However, these findings do more than just highlight the challenges faced by overworked employees as they reach the limits of their resilience in the workplace; they also sound an urgent alarm for employers to listen carefully before they find themselves grappling with the consequences of high attrition and turnover rates.

Statistics reveal a staggering truth: the average UK employee works an additional three extra weeks annually, uncompensated, due to expanded remits and increased workloads.

Our poll reveals approximately four in ten employees are taking on significant extra responsibilities, amounting to an average of five additional tasks on top of their regular duties.

Continue reading to understand the impact of overloading employees without recognition and reward. Explore the extent of these challenges and uncover how proactive implementing measures will help construct the necessary support structures so your employees and business can flourish.

The onboarding conundrum: prematurely overworked 

The onboarding experience, a crucial period for new hires, is particularly susceptible to the strains of overloading. Within the first three months of employment, nearly a quarter (23%) of employees find themselves taking on additional responsibilities outside of their job descriptions. This premature overloading can lead to feelings of overwhelm, disengagement, and even burnout, jeopardising both job satisfaction and retention rates.

Doug Rode, Managing Director UK&I at Michael Page, commented on this, saying:

Our research has revealed a growing trend of workers accepting additional responsibilities above and beyond their contracted remit. This ‘boundary-blurring’ highlights a growing norm within the modern workforce – where workers find their previously agreed remits expanded across teams and tasks to fit the needs of the business.

In an era of increased scrutiny around work/life balance and a growing skills gap, top talent is more valuable than ever. Businesses need to invest time and resources into finding the right talent solutions both for now and the future, rather than trying to stretch existing workers to fit an evolving remit.

If financial incentives are not possible in the short-term, employers should be investing in their workforce in other ways such as improving upskilling opportunities to help workers futureproof their careers.

The toll on well-being: a ripple effect with financial impact

A worrying part of this trend is that 32% of workers have said no to taking on additional responsibilities and opportunities to progress their careers, in an effort to preserve their mental well-being and work-life balance.

The toll on well-being alone should be enough to take action, but the financial impact on UK businesses due to overburdened staff is equally staggering

With such substantial financial implications, employers are left grappling with how to address this issue. A resounding 78% agree that management should focus on investing in additional resources rather than continually burdening existing staff with more work. The question stands: how can employers effectively implement strategies to alleviate these costs and improve overall productivity?

Strategies for sustainable integration

While the research underscores employees' commitment to going above and beyond, it also highlights the pressing need for greater support, resources, rewards, and recognition to sustain this dedication:

  • 79% of workers are willing to actively seek out additional tasks.
  • 69% appreciate the 'all hands-on deck' attitude in their workplace.
  • But sadly, 49% go the extra mile without receiving recognition or reward.

Although 79% of workers said they would actively seek out additional tasks, it doesn’t mean they should go unrewarded, whether it’s recognition, a bonus or promotion at some point.

Here’s how you can address the strain of overloading:

  • Communicate clearly: Leaders must communicate shifting expectations of roles and responsibilities clearly and transparently.
  • Provide realistic timelines and set achievable goals: Help mitigate feelings of overwhelm and uncertainty.
  • Foster a culture of support and open communication: Encourage employees to voice concerns and seek assistance when needed.
  • Implement structured onboarding programmes: Use structures tools such as our ‘first 90 days’ template to facilitate a smoother transition for new hires, easing the burden of additional responsibilities and aiding clear conversations around workload with managers.
  • Provide adequate training and resources: Equip employees with the necessary training and resources to empower them to succeed in their roles without feeling overwhelmed by unfamiliar tasks.

By integrating equitable compensation practices into these solutions, organisations can ensure that employees are not only supported but also rewarded fairly for their efforts, fostering a culture of appreciation and motivation.

Access salary guides to benchmark competitive compensation

Employee empowerment: Advocating for balance

Ultimately, addressing the issue of overloading requires a proactive approach from both employers and employees. Organisations must prioritise workforce well-being and recognise the importance of maintaining a sustainable workload. Conversely, employees should feel empowered to advocate for themselves and assert boundaries when necessary, safeguarding their mental health and productivity.

The impact of overloading employees extends far beyond the confines of the workplace. It erodes morale, diminishes job satisfaction, and threatens productivity. By acknowledging the challenges and implementing effective strategies for support, employers can cultivate a resilient workforce equipped to navigate the demands of today's work environment.

Cultivate a resilient workforce

If you're seeking support in reinforcing your workforce with the necessary resources and skilled talent to thrive explore our services and start a conversation today:

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Together, we can foster a healthier, more sustainable work culture for all.

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