Burnt-out Britain: One in three employees in engineering and manufacturing working unpaid overtime

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Almost one in three (29%) UK employees in the engineering and manufacturing sector are working beyond their contracted hours and doing some form of unpaid overtime each week, as labour shortages trouble the industry. 

With almost half of the businesses in the sector experiencing recruitment issues, those in the industry are feeling the strain. More than one in five (21%) employees say they work between one and five hours extra, in overtime, each week. 

Previous Claro Wellbeing research found that 16% of employees in the sector have experienced burnout – a state of physical and emotional exhaustion caused by work stress – in six months and employees regularly working overtime are at increased risk of poor wellbeing. 

The poll of 1,000 UK-based employees by Claro Wellbeing was published in its Wellbeing Washing – The True Cost report, which seeks to uncover the disparity between organisations’ public displays of support for mental health initiatives and actual support for mental wellbeing.

As the cost of living crisis puts pressure on employees’ finances, many will be keen to prove themselves, working longer hours to complete their tasks, with one in six (15%) saying they feel guilty if they do not work overtime. Whilst, nearly a quarter (23%) said they work above and beyond their contracted hours due to increased workloads, suggesting staff shortages are impacting the sector. 

Many sectors and businesses are also currently finding recruitment difficult, leading current employees to pick up extra tasks beyond their job description. Some 10% of employees within engineering and manufacturing say that they are expected to work beyond their contracted hours.

Stacey Lowman, head of employee wellbeing at Claro Wellbeing, said: “The number of employees in the engineering and manufacturing sector working unpaid overtime each week is concerning due to the impact it can have on their personal wellbeing. While companies are facing tough trading conditions, the cost of neglecting staff wellbeing could be significant.

Continued overworking is likely to lead to poor wellbeing, burnout, an increased chance of mental health issues and staff taking sickness absence.

“Employers are also likely to see a higher staff turnover rate as employees leave for a better working environment. This is an issue already facing the sector with many companies experiencing difficulties in recruitment. 

“A comprehensive benefits offering can aid wellbeing and help employees deal with workplace stresses. Employers are beginning to recognise the need for better mental health support, as this was the most introduced employee benefit in the last year. Similarly, sabbaticals and paid time off are also increasingly popular benefits, as work-life balance continues to climb up the list of priorities for employees. Despite this, it’s clear that there’s much more to be done to prevent burnout.

“Work-related burnout can also be exacerbated by other stresses, such as strain on finances caused by the cost-of-living crisis.

“Our Workplace Today report found that, on average, each employee spends three-and-a-half days a year at work trying to sort out their bills and completing other personal finance tasks which reduces productivity and adds to the workload burden. To support employees, employers could consider introducing a financial wellbeing programme which enables staff to access support at a time that suits them.

For example, Claro Wellbeing has recently launched its ‘WhatsApp a Coach’ service, an entire financial wellbeing programme delivered over WhatsApp, including the option of directly contacting a financial coach with any money question.” 

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