Third of UK employees work way outside contracted hours

Third of UK employees work way outside contracted hours

Over 35 percent of employees regularly arrive at work early or stay late, and that younger people are more likely to work longer hours than their older colleagues. The study, conducted by Love Energy Savings discovered that 8 percent of British employees work a staggering 20 hours or more each week than their contracted hours. Of those surveyed, over 40 percent of 18 to 24-year-old employees admit to working more than their contracted hours, a higher number than any other age group; 10 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds admitted to working over 20 hours of overtime per week.

There was a clear pattern relating to age, as UK workers gradually work less overtime as they get older, with 36 percent of 35 to 44-years-old working overtime, dropping to 32 percent for 45 to 54-year-olds. Overall, the research shows that men are marginally more likely to work additional hours than women, with 39 percent of men working some form of overtime, compared to 32 percent of women.To understand why so many people regularly put in extra time, the report looks at the various reasons why British workers choose to work longer than their contracted hours.

  1. Too much work.The most common cause for employees staying glued to their desks after hours was due to an inability to complete their workload during their regular work hours. There are always times when work is busier than usual, which is when people will often stick around for an extra hour or two. However, it’s when this becomes a regular occurrence that problems begin, often leading to employees working unpaid overtime simply to stay on track.
  2. Office distractions.Research from UC Irvine states that office workers are interrupted every 11 minutes, and it can take up to 23 minutes to get back on track. With so much to derail us in office hours, it might feel necessary for some workers to burn the midnight oil simply to get their day’s work done.
  3. Email overload.Work emails are a blessing and a curse. They allow us to stay connected with business updates, yet more often than not it leaks into our personal lives, with many people still answering work emails late at night, on weekends and during annual leave. France has recently made it illegal to send work-related emails over the weekend to prevent employee burnout, highlighting just how much of a problem it is to be connected to our work lives in our spare time.
  4. Career progression. For many employees, especially young professionals, ‘going the extra mile’ is the quickest way to progress up the ladder. While showing commitment to your career and wanting to develop in your company is by no means a bad thing, spending your spare time toiling away will leave you exhausted and could have a negative effect on your work.
  5. Supplementing income.The UK has had the weakest wage growth of any G7 country over the past decade, which could indicate why younger generations are working so many extra hours of overtime to boost their income.

Mike Edwards, Head of People, of Love Energy Savings said: “Even when done with the best of intentions,” said Mike, “sacrificing your personal life to put in a few more hours at the office each week can lead to a downward spiral. At Love Energy Savings we believe that a healthy work-life balance is crucial to a business’s success – if your team can’t unwind at the end of the day, they won’t be ready for the next day.”

He reminded employers that “businesses need to be transparent with their employees to make it easy for them to communicate when they’re having to work beyond normal hours to keep up. If they don’t, they’re putting their staff at risk.”

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