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A happy employee is a profitable employee but, often, an unrelenting workload can spell the end for employee satisfaction. As Britons try and squeeze more and more into their working day, Editor, Tim Wood, looks at some of the latest reported figures on employee burnout.

The story of the overworked employee is not a new one. Thirty years ago, Donna Summer sang about working hard for the money whilst the music video for the record depicted a cleaner and waitress working all hours to make ends meet. In a competitive economy, where employers are trying to stretch as much as they can out of every payslip, the employee experience is always the first to suffer. While some employees rebel, conscientious employees pick up the slack. But how far can that will to succeed stretch before it breaks?

A series of reports published this year have suggested that employees are working harder than ever to squeeze as much as they can into their normal working day and, even then, asking more of themselves once they’ve left the office. According to research by recruitment specialist, Robert Half UK, three out of 10 (30%) UK HR directors say employee burnout is common within their organisation. The research also revealed that two thirds (67%) cite ‘workload’ as the primary reason for employee burnout, although this figure rises to three quarters (75%) for large companies.

While the research puts a focus on large organisations, we should also take into account the number of much smaller businesses, which are less likely to have a comprehensive HR structure in place and fewer staff to manage the load. Unsurprisingly,


the authors of the report suggest that temporary staffing is a good way forward but with balancing the books of principal concern, as well as important technical skills required, it’s difficult to see how staff and their employers can catch a break.

These thoughts are compounded further when you take into account that 72% of British workers are giving their bosses an extra 10 hours of free labour a week, saving the company over £6,000 a year, in a bid to manage their workload and to keep their line manager happy (Travelodge survey of 2,000 British workers). Projected onto the working population, this equates to a grand total of £142billion of free productivity for British bosses. Add to that the three million Britons who have held a second job in the past six months (Direct Line Home Business Insurance report) and you get the fuller picture of employees heading towards meltdown.

Changes employees can make include identifying and cutting down on tasks of low importance, but in the world of FM, where continuity is everything, the end user will expect the same standards as before. Tellingly, good employees who feel overworked are so because of their willingness to impress. Recognising that you are being overworked is the first step and, depending on where you are on the management scale, saying no is the next. Discuss your options with your line manager or


• How to spot burnout: • Frequently late for work • Less productive

• Frequently disagrees with managers or colleagues

• Disconnected from work

employer, raise your concerns and ask for help. If the help isn’t there, the onus is on your employer to prove your worth to them.

If you’re an employer, recognising the signs of burnout in your employees is crucial. As much as it is an old cliché, communication is key. Find out how your staff are feeling and ask them how you can help. If they have too much on, is there someone who can take some of the load? If not, is there room to provide someone? When you break FM down to the bare bones, it is a service provided by people. If those people can’t perform each task to the best of their ability, your contract will never offer the best service.

While hard working and caring employees will pull their socks up for the time being, an unrelenting workload may cause job satisfaction to quickly deteriorate, sending staff elsewhere. Though extra staffing might impinge on the bottom line, keeping employees happy and healthy will reap long-term reward. As Donna sang, ‘she works hard for the money, so you better treat her right’.

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