Summer blues: UK workers stressed, unrested and dreading return to reality

Two in three employees in the UK (64%) are placed under extra pressure over the summer from picking up colleagues’ work during the holiday period, according to Bupa.

Stress is not just a winter issue with two thirds (64%) of UK employees feeling under extra pressure at work over the summer. People are unable to relax even when holidaying as they are worrying about emails piling up (54 per cent) and work calling (32%). Two-thirds (61%) are dreading the return to reality as the holidays come to an end.

holiday working

The research, which combines the views of 2,000 UK workers, shows that more than two in five (44%) face a ‘dramatic’ workload increase during the summer. This is due to too many people going away at the same time in over half (54 per cent) of UK companies. Indeed, two in five (43%) employees are feeling a strain on resources because of staff holidays right now. As a result, one in three (34%) has experienced stress, anxiety or depression over the summer – contradicting the common belief that winter is the most miserable season for workers. Despite this, a worrying proportion (35%) believe that employee well-being is often ignored by managers at this time of year.

Dr Tim Woodman, medical director at Bupa, comments; “Conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety are not just winter-related issues and employers cannot afford to forget to focus on well-being, whatever the weather. Practical steps must be taken to ensure staff are not inadvertently overloaded with work and remain productive and motivated. Line managers should map out resources and annual leave effectively, and monitor stress levels by planning in regular one-to-ones with team members around holidays.”

“This is particularly pertinent following the bank holiday when many workers will feel that they have to pack a full week’s work into just four days.”

No rest for the workers

It’s not only the employees left in the office who feel the strain. Two in five (41 per cent) people have to put in extra hours in preparation for their own holiday. Even when they are away, nearly one in three (32%) worries about being called or emailed and being expected to respond. More than half (55%) return to find a huge backlog of work and hundreds of emails waiting (54%).

The cumulative effect is that three in five people dread returning to the reality of work after their holiday.

Dr Tim Woodman adds; “Employees must be allowed to take their full annual leave entitlement and for that time-off to be a genuine break from work. It’s vital to maintain a healthy work-life balance and focus on family and relationships, uninterrupted by calls and emails.” “Far too many workers are enduring an extended period of summer stress – in the lead up to their holiday, while away and on their return. Stress can be the trigger for serious mental and physical health issues and many businesses are still failing to realise the importance of employee well-being.”

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