As the UK gears up for the festive season, concerns over work-life balance are on the rise for a significant portion of the workforce, according to a recent survey conducted by life insurance broker Reassured.
The findings shed light on the challenges faced by British employees, revealing that over half (56%) do not feel they have a good work-life balance.
The UK workforce, on average, engages in more than 36 hours of labour per week, as indicated by a European survey.
Despite some major companies introducing a 4-day workweek, a substantial number of workers are still grappling with the challenge of balancing professional responsibilities with personal downtime, resulting in adverse effects on mental health.
Notably, the survey underscores the impact of work-life imbalance during the upcoming holiday season, where employees may miss out on festive celebrations with friends and family to meet job expectations.
An alarming revelation from the survey is that over a third of respondents have left their jobs due to a lack of work-life balance. When asked about reasons for leaving a job, or why they are considering leaving their current position, 34 percent cited work-life balance as a significant factor, ranking second only to poor pay (37%).
Working overtime is not uncommon
Also, almost 14 percent of respondents reported working overtime both during the week and on weekends, sacrificing family time and social events. An additional 11 percent admitted to frequently cancelling personal plans to meet work demands, a trend likely to intensify during the busy festive season, especially in sectors such as retail and marketing.
Media industry workers appear to be the most affected during Christmas, with 58 percent struggling to cope with work demands. Notably, recruitment and HR emerged as the industries with the worst work-life balance overall, with 15 percent of workers expressing dissatisfaction. Business, consulting, and management closely followed, with 14 percent reporting a poor work-life balance.
The survey also highlighted the severe impact on mental health, with nearly six in 10 Brits reporting negative effects. About 14 percent of respondents noted a worsening of their mental health during key periods, such as Christmas.
In response to these findings, Jen Wlodyka, Senior Operations and Culture Manager at Distinctly, provided insights on addressing work-life balance issues with managers during the festive season and beyond. She emphasised the importance of identifying problems, communicating concerns in advance, and proposing potential solutions to streamline workloads.
A private space for discussion
Regarding mental health concerns arising from workload, Wlodyka advised finding a private space for discussion and writing out thoughts beforehand to communicate needs effectively. For those seeking progression opportunities, she suggested scheduling regular meetings with managers to track progress and discuss skill-building.
Other issues, including bad management and toxic workplace culture, were addressed with practical advice on initiating conversations with managers or HR, backed by documented evidence.
Phil Jeynes, Director of Corporate Strategy at Reassured, commented on the findings, stating, “Our findings show more needs to be done to support employees with workload, and we encourage people to be more open about their work-life balance with their managers. Whilst a secure income is vital to protecting yourself and your family, wellbeing should always be a priority during your working life.”
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 the 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.