It was found that in 2018 full-time employees in the UK worked 42 hours a week on average, exceeding the EU average by almost two hours. A seemingly small figure that translates into an extra two and a half weeks a year.
The longer hours worked by employees in the UK are not leading to an increase in output or productivity, however, it is fact having an adverse effect, with workers in other EU countries benefiting from shorter working days with more productivity.
For example, workers in Germany have been found to be 14.6% more productive despite working 1.8 hours a week less than those in the UK. More surprinsgly, employees in Denmark who have been found to have the shortest working hours in the EU see 23% more output than UK based workers.
Not only are UK workers less productive but the long-hours culture in the UK is damaging to employee wellbeing and impeding their ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Frances O’Grady of the TUC stated that the long-hours culture in the UK is damaging to workers and is nothing to be proud of and is instead normalising being overworked, stressed and exhausted. O’Grady is campaigning for change, favouring the idea of reduced hours to allow for reduced stress and to provide more time for workers to spend with their families and loved ones.
There has been a recent increase in the introduction of the four-day working week, with a number of business’ trialling the idea.
A study published by the Institute for Labour Economics found that after working 35 hours during the week, a workers productivity starts to steadily decline. A shorter, condensed working week may help reduce and prevent this decline. A recent survey found that 30% of employees believe that the introduction of a four-day working week would reduce their stress levels and increase their productivity in the workplace.
There is however some opposition to the four-day working week. With some expressing concerns that a shorter working week would also increase stress, due to employees feeling under pressure to manage the same workload in a shorter period. Without time to decompress during the day, working flat-out for four days to fit in a week’s work could lead to burn out and may not be sustainable in the long run.
Creating a culture of support within your business may be the ultimate key to managing workplace stress and fatigue. As an employer, it is important that you identify high-pressure roles and take a pro-active approach toward offering high levels of support to match an employee’s workload.
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