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Burnout Britain

Employment Law Review Weekly Issue 855 01 February 2024


In its first annual report into levels of burnout in Britain, the charity Mental Health UK has found that one in five workers in the UK has needed to take time off work in the past year due to poor mental health caused by pressure or stress.

It also found that the likelihood of needing to do so varied by age, with 34 per cent of workers aged 18 to 24 taking time off, compared with 15 per cent of those aged 55 or over.

Workers aged 35 to 44 were the most likely group to have experienced high or extreme stress levels and pressure in the past year (40 per cent), while workers aged 55 or over were the least likely (33 per cent).

Working arrangements also impacted people’s experiences of burnout at work, with 25 per cent of those working from a fixed location (such as an office) citing it as a contributing factor compared to 16 per cent of home workers and 14 per cent of hybrid workers. Just under a third of those who had been mandated back to work said this had caused them stress which may have contributed to burnout.

Despite these high levels, nearly half of UK workers who responded to the survey said their employer didn’t have a plan in place to spot the signs of chronic stress and prevent burnout in employees, with only 29 per cent reporting that they did.  

When asked about the factors at work which had caused them stress and may have contributed to burnout in the past year, the majority stated that these included “a high or increased workload or volume of tasks at work – unpaid” (54 per cent), “regularly working unpaid overtime beyond contracted hours” (45 per cent) and “feeling isolated at work” (42 per cent).

A significant proportion also cited “fear of redundancy/job security” (40 per cent), “taking on additional paid work due to the cost-of-living crisis (38 per cent), and “being bullied or intimidated by other colleagues at work” (31 per cent) as factors which have caused them stress and may have contributed towards burnout in the past year.

The survey was carried out by YouGov between 14 and 15 December 2023 with a total sample size of 2,060 adults of whom 1,132 were workers.

To read the report in full, click here.