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UK – Workers increasingly feeling the strain

03 October 2013

Overstretched staff are toiling at a more intense rate than they were a year ago, according to new research from recruitment firm Randstad, with less than one in three reporting similar levels of pressure last year, reports the Telegraph.

The recruitment agency’s study of 2,000 employees from various sized business across Britain also revealed that 53% of all UK staff believe their job is the work of, 1.4 people; the equivalent of working a seven-day week, and an increase of +45% from last year. A fifth (22%) say their job requires the efforts of two or more people.

Mark Bull, chief executive of Randstad UK and Middle East, said: “There is little doubt UK employees are working harder than ever. Spread-thin Britain is being stretched even thinner. Up until recently, firms were reluctant to take on staff because they were concerned the nascent economic recovery could be easily derailed. As a result, existing staff have taken on increasingly large workloads, particularly as the recovery has gained momentum and demand has increased.”

The research showed there are still some positions out there for the indolent though, with 4% saying that their job was the work of just half a person and 6% admitted it took even less.

However, heavier workloads appear to be paying off for those who can stand the pace and are creating a ‘battled-hardened’ cadre of super-staff. Some 47% of respondents said that their career had been boosted by the extra work they have had to take on, and have enjoyed rewards; including pay rises, promotions, and learning new skills.

Mr Bull said: “The downturn has been a ‘progression recession’, spawning a new breed of ‘super-worker’ that grafts extremely hard and has flown up the career ladder as a result. It has left the UK labour market in good shape. The workforce has been battle-hardened by the recession, which has left the UK with a core of highly-skilled high-fliers who can be the driving force behind the economic recovery.”

When it comes to the most demanding positions, the sector with the greatest amount of people reporting they cannot work any harder is social care (53.9%), followed by legal (49.4%), then technology (49.3%). At the other end of the scale, doctors say they are most able to take on more work (33.7%), then teachers and lecturers (37.2%), followed by those in the construction industry (39.4%).

However, Unison, the UK’s largest trade union, said that rather revealing opportunities to shine for those willing to take on more work, the survey highlights the lasting effects of the recession with staff fearful of job security.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary “This survey paints a picture of overworked, overstretched staff being forced to do more than their fair share and more than they are paid for. This is despite so many people being unemployed. Employers are getting away with it because the recession has made people more scared than ever about losing their jobs.”

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