New research from Canada Life reveals alarming statistics about the working habits of UK employees, with more than half (51%) regularly exceeding their contracted hours and 17 percent clocking at least two hours of overtime every day.

The study sheds light on the toll the cost-of-living crisis is taking on the workforce, as a quarter (25%) of respondents express heightened stress about their jobs due to the economic challenges of the past two years.

The report indicates that 17 percent of employees are consistently working two hours more than their contractual obligations each day.

Concerns over the cost-of-living crisis are pervasive, with three in 10 (30%) fearing they may need to work beyond the state pension age to make ends meet.

Impact on Personal and Home Life

For a significant portion of the workforce (18%), the cost-of-living crisis has intensified the impact of work on personal and home life. A notable 10 percent admit they find it difficult to disconnect from work, indicating a growing struggle with maintaining a work-life balance.

The survey also unveils several coping mechanisms employed by workers under increasing pressure. Sixteen percent check emails and online chats more regularly outside of working hours, while 12 percent take fewer breaks, and 11 percent start work earlier. Additionally, 15 percent feel compelled to prove their value by working consistently every day.

‘Always On’ Work Culture Challenges

Canada Life’s Protection Sales Director, Dan Crook, comments on the concerning findings, stating, “The ‘always on’ work culture we’ve adopted over the last few decades came to a head during the pandemic, as we set up home desks and new hybrid ways of working. But, while the novelty of being able to work from home has worn off, the ‘always on’ hangover remains.”

Crook emphasises the potential toll of the overtime trend, highlighting that working an additional two hours daily, possibly unpaid, equates to 520 hours annually for full-time roles, amounting to £9,048 a year based on the average wage.

Employer Responsibility and Wellness Programs

The research underscores the role employers play in fostering a healthier work environment. Crook urges employers to actively encourage and enable staff to take necessary breaks, recover from illness, and detach from the daily grind. He advocates for the implementation of wellness programs to retain and cultivate a collaborative and productive work culture without the fear of being constantly present.

As the data reveals, well-rested employees are crucial for sustaining a productive and positive working environment.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.