Employee burnout commonplace in third of UK companies


Employee burnout is endemic within a third of UK organisations. According to new research from recruitment specialist Robert Half UK three out of ten (30 per cent) UK HR directors reported high levels of employee burnout, which rises to more than a third (35 per cent) for those in London and the South East and publicly listed companies. Two thirds (67 per cent) of UK HR directors cite “workload” as the primary reason for employee burnout, although this figure rises to three quarters (75 per cent) for large and 73 per cent for public sector companies.

More than half (56 per cent) cite ‘overtime / long working hours’ as the secondary reason, followed by ‘unachievable expectations (35 per cent), ‘economic pressures’ (32 per cent) and ‘inability to balance personal and professional commitments’ (27 per cent).

Research conducted by Robert Half UK last year, showed that nearly one in three (29 per cent) UK HR directors cited work-life balance as the primary motivation for employees leaving their company for other opportunities. With eight in ten (80 per cent) executives concerned about losing top performers over the course of the year, employee burnout and work-life balance should be primary considerations in an organisation’s retention strategy.

Phil Sheridan, Managing Director, Robert Half UK said: “Employee burnout can affect almost any professional, from top boss to rank and file employee. Many employees who have been tackling increased workloads while putting in long hours are beginning to lose their motivation at work and this is particularly challenging for accounting teams as they prepare for fiscal year-end.”

The report highlights the following warning signs that employees may be “running on empty”:

  • Frequently late for work
  • Less productive
  • Frequently disagrees with managers or colleagues
  • Disconnected from work
  • Increased amount of sick leave
  • Negativity and emotional outbursts

When asked if any initiatives had been implemented to prevent employee burnout, HR directors said they are promoting a teamwork-based environment (50 per cent), reviewing/restructuring job functions and tasks (45 per cent), encouraging team–building activities (34 per cent), providing flexible working options (34 per cent) and encouraging employees to take time off (31 per cent).  One in five businesses (19 per cent) plan to hire additional temporary / interim staff to help manage burnout.

HR directors in London and the South East experience employee burnout within their organisation more than any other region, with an average of 35 per cent who said it was a common occurrence, followed by 31 per cent in the Midlands, 29 per cent in the North and Scotland and 22 per cent in the South West and Wales.