Report charts rise in ‘always on’ culture

A new report from BITC finds many employees struggle to switch off after work, with those in the office slightly less likely to be able to do so than those working from home.

Stressed women at laptop


Only 45% of employees feel that they can switch off from work, with the other 55% stating they feel pressured to respond to calls or check emails after working hours, according to new research.

The research by Business in the Community (BITC), The Prince’s Responsible Business Network,  found that, of employees who worked from home, 49% said they feel they can switch off from work, compared to 45% of employees who travel to and from work each day.

The research also found that over the last two years, four in 10 people (41%) have had to work overtime and struggled to take annual leave due to workload. Findings also showed that:

  • 54% of employees said that they had too many priorities/targets, up from 51% in 2020
  • Less than a third of employees (29%) have the flexibility to alter the start and finish times of their working day
  • 56% of workers on temporary and zero hours contracts are less likely to be able to take their annual leave, compared to 79% of employees on fixed and permanent contracts

The report makes six recommendations for employers to support employees’ wellbeing and promote a healthy work-life balance. They include ensuring that employees can switch off outside of their agreed working hours, giving employees the right to request flexible working from their first day of work and balancing business and employee needs by providing flexibility in how, where, and when people work.

Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director at Business in the Community, said: “It’s clear from these findings that the mental health trends for employees who are unable to switch off from work are going in the wrong direction. Employees, at the very minimum, should not be constantly working additional hours, struggling to take annual leave or feel like they have to always be available to answer emails at all hours of the day. Boundaries must be set to ensure that employers are able to switch off outside of their core working hours and it’s up to senior leaders to ensure that those boundaries are in place. 

“Businesses need their teams to be their absolute best at work, and employees must have the flexibility to do their jobs that balance with their lives outside of the workplace. Our research found that 65% of employees say that work-life balance is extremely important to them, so employers either need to offer that flexibility or else risk losing talented people to organisations that do.”

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