New research sheds light on the state of UK workplaces, revealing alarming trends of excessive pressures, unpaid overtime, and mental health struggles among employees.

The findings from leisure operator Better paint a concerning picture of the toll work is taking on the nation’s health.

According to the research, Britons are working an average of 14 days of unpaid overtime per year, with two-thirds of respondents admitting to regularly working beyond their contracted hours.

This equates to an extra two hours per week on average, with some individuals working as much as five extra hours per week, resulting in a staggering 35 days of unpaid work annually.

An ‘always on’ culture

The impact on mental health is profound, with a staggering 81 percent of respondents stating that their workplace has a negative effect on their wellbeing. Excessive workload and pressure were cited as the primary cause, with a third of respondents attributing their stress to these factors. Particularly alarming is the finding that 16 percent of workers are expected to be reachable outside of working hours, perpetuating an ‘always on’ culture that makes it difficult for employees to disconnect.

The repercussions of these workplace pressures are evident in the high levels of sick leave taken by employees. On average, Britons are signed off work for four days per year, with mental health issues accounting for a fifth of these absences. The toll is particularly heavy in regions such as Northern Ireland, where sick leave days more than double the national average.

Despite some efforts by employers to address these challenges, such as offering mental health support and gym memberships, a significant portion of employees still feel that their workplace limits their ability to lead healthy, balanced lives. This sentiment is echoed by the 40 percent of workers who would consider leaving their job due to stress or burnout, indicating a clear need for more comprehensive support measures.

What can employers do?

Joseph Rham, Customer Experience Director at Better, emphasised the need for employers to take proactive measures to support their employees’ wellbeing. “While technology has many benefits, it has also led to an ‘always on’ culture where workers often don’t feel they can escape from work and feel under constant pressure,” Rham said. “It is crucial that employers put into place holistic measures that help their employees live healthy, balanced lives.”

Paul Blythin, Director of Health and Skills at Business Health Matters, underscored the importance of prioritising workplace health and wellbeing. “Employees are often a business’s greatest asset, so while steps are being taken, employers need to look to do more to support their employees’ health and wellbeing,” Blythin commented.

As the debate over workplace wellbeing intensifies, the onus is on employers to address the root causes of stress and burnout, fostering environments that prioritise the health and happiness of their workforce. Failure to do so risks not only the wellbeing of employees but also the long-term success of businesses across the UK.





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.