From education to employment

Education sector tops unpaid overtime list, and 17% take time off for mental health

New research has revealed how those in the education field work an average of 2.2 hours overtime per week, which accumulates to around 14 days of unpaid overtime each year – the highest industry in the country. 17% of those working in education also cited mental health issues as to why they took time off work in the past year, with an average of 4.7 sick days taken off in the past year.

  • Education workers average 2.22 hours of overtime per week.
  • Over half (57%) report difficulty switching off on weekends, and an even higher percentage (70%) struggle to disconnect in the evenings.
  • Mental health is a leading reason for taking sick days, with 17% of workers reporting absences due to stress, second only to those working in the legal sector.
  • Fatigue and musculoskeletal issues are also prevalent, with 13% and 8% of workers, respectively, taking days off due to these concerns.

Overall, 81% of the UK say their workplace is having a negative impact on their wellbeing, with 68% of UK workers struggling to switch off during weekday evenings, and the average UK worker clocking in 14 days of unpaid overtime each year, which amounts to a shocking £1,876 per person. This research comes from a national study by leisure operator Better, which further revealed that excessive workload (34%), dissatisfaction with salary (25%), and a lack of recognition (24%) are the top reasons for workplace unhappiness.

The research goes on to highlight that eight out of ten respondents believe their workplace has a negative impact on their wellbeing, with a third of those surveyed (34%) citing excessive workload and pressure as the primary cause. This figure rises to 42% among those living in Northern Ireland and Scotland. 16% of workers are also expected to be contactable outside of working hours. 

Unsurprisingly, this ‘always on’ culture has led to Brits finding it hard to switch off from work, with 68% struggling to switch off during weekday evenings and a further 59% unable to disengage over the weekend.

These perceived pressures may have resulted in the nation’s relatively high levels of sick leave. On average, Britons are signed off work for four days per year. This figure more than doubles for those living in Northern Ireland (seven days), while those living in North East England take the least sick leave (three days). One in six Gen Z take more than 5 days of sick leave per year, compared to just 10% of Boomers.

A fifth of respondents stated that they took time off work for mental health reasons (23%), rising to 30% for those living in the South West, and one in six took time out of the workplace for fatigue. Perhaps surprisingly, 23% said that they took sick leave for family emergencies, with men 9% more likely to report this as a reason than women.  One in ten took sick leave for musculoskeletal problems such as a bad back, with this rising to one in six in East Midlands.

With recruitment currently a challenge for many industries, it is interesting to see that 40% of workers would consider leaving their job due to stress or burnout, with a further 39% citing a poor work/life balance as a motivator for change.

Some workplaces are doing what they can to address the challenges faced by their employees. Almost half (49%) of UK businesses offer mental health support, 27% provide gym memberships or discounts, a third provide free fruit and snacks for workers, and more than half (51%) offer a generous annual leave policy of more than 28 days per year.  Despite this, 17% of Brits believe their workplace limits their ability to exercise, and one in seven feel that it causes irregular or unhealthy eating patterns.

Commenting on the new research, Joseph Rham, Customer Experience Director at Better said:

“The survey highlights the pressures felt by the UK workforce. 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. 

It is crucial that employers put into place holistic measures that help their employees live healthy, balanced lives. It is obvious from the findings that some workplaces have already taken positive steps, for example, by offering access to physical activity and mental health support, but more needs to be done, in order to make a critical difference.  The benefits will be a happier, healthier workforce and improved staff retention.”

Paul Blythin, Director of Health and Skills at Business Health Matters, said:

“Workplace health and wellbeing is becoming an increasingly important topic, and with good reason. As this research clearly shows, people’s wellbeing is being significantly impacted by their workplaces, and it is important that workplaces take note of this. 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.”

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