British workforce risks burn out.
Tuesday, 28th August 2007
Source : Holiday Inn
Many Britons are working themselves into the ground with the longest working hours in Europe, coupled with the shortest holidays1 -

Holiday Inn has identified the worrying condition of Holi'rexia which is turning some of the British workforce into exhausted, depressive, de-motivated, bad tempered, insomniacs. But while the findings make alarming reading, the cure is simple, easy and enjoyable - taking more breaks and making the most of your holidays.

British workers short changed: Close to two million workers (1.8m) report taking just half their allocated annual leave with close to a quarter of a million (241,966) pushed to breaking point, unable to take any time off in more than 12 months. Overall more than 6.1m (1 in 5) respondents report losing out at least some of their annual entitlement.

Live to work culture: Despite 48 hours being the legal limit for weekly working hours without individual consent, 3m are working more than 50 hours a week with a third of a million (324,750) clocking up 70 hours or more a week.

Office treadmill: In Great Britain, one in six (14% - 3.6m) report working more than seven months without taking a break. More worryingly, 10% (2.7m) admitted to going close to a year without time off.

Spotting the signs of Holi'rexia: Workers cite a range of symptoms resulting from excessive workload and lack of holiday, with tiredness cited as the leading impact (65%) and demotivation (43%), bad temper (40%), depression (29%) and insomnia (22%) also affecting sufferers.

Incredible shrinking vacation: When finally able to take time off, 31% (8.2m) managed just one week with two to three days being the second most popular choice (19% - 5m). The classic fortnight has been relegated to third place, with just 12% (3.2m) reporting a longer break.

British workers will be breathing a collective sigh of relief as August bank holiday approaches. The findings of research conducted by Holiday Inn are a wake up to Britain's bosses, revealing a nation in the grip of Holi'rexia brought on by a combination of long hours and lack of holiday.

Wake up call for Britain's bosses

Britain's bosses need to look again at their concept of work life balance after the research findings revealed workers suffer from symptoms of exhaustion, depression, bad temper and insomnia as a result of too much work and not enough play.

Once known as the dirty man of Europe, Britain is close to claiming the title of the continent's workhorse with more than a quarter (27%) of Britons (7m) regularly breaching the standard 40 hour week. Over 324,000 report clocking up to 70+ hours a week, the equivalent of a 14 hour day from Monday to Friday, calling into question employers' responsibility to secure the wellbeing of their staff.

The findings are compounded by the fact that workers are finding it harder to take time off as a result of the pressure to perform. In one alarming finding, close to two million admitted to losing out on more than half of their annual leave as a result of work pressure.

Even more worryingly, almost a quarter of a million could be close to burnout, by admitting to working throughout the year without a day off, prompting questions around the impact on health and wellbeing.

Tired, demotivatedand bad tempered

With ever greater pressure on the bottom line, British business could be shooting itself in the foot by failing to address the impact caused by longer hours and failure to take sensible breaks. Workers report suffering from a range of symptoms associated with the impact of longer hours and lack of time off, citing tiredness (65% - 17.6m) as the primary impact.

But of perhaps greater concern for business leaders is that of the potential impact on workplace morale, with staff complaining of demotivation (43% - 11.4m), bad temper (40% - 10.8m), depression (29% - 7.7m) and insomnia (22% - 5.9m) as a result of the relentless pressure and failure to take adequate time off.

Holiday patterns confirm the picture, with a quarter (24% - 6.3m) of British workhorses admitting to going between seven to 12 months without any sort of break; of those, 42% (2.6m) report pushing through between ten to 12 months without a day off.

When workers do finally take a break, the trend is away from the classic fortnight, with the majority (68% - 18.3m) committing to just one week or less, further compounding the problem and failing to provide a true respite from the gruelling pace..

And with over 324,000 clocking up to 70 hours or more a week, it's hardly surprising that workers report impact on relaxation time once they make it out of the office. Almost two thirds (60% - 11.9m) of those surveyed complained of using holiday time to run catch up on personal errands further compounding the sense of little down time.

Alexi Hakim, Chief Operating Officer UK & Ireland, InterContinental Hotels Group said: "The findings come as we face the final bank holiday of the year and reveal a workforce at risk of burn out. As a nation we need to face the fact all work and no play leaves us stressed out, exhausted and unproductive. Workers need to take more regular breaks and pace themselves to avoid the impact of Holi'rexia".


The research on British working and holiday habits was commissioned by Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts and conducted by YouGov between the 10th and the 13th August 2007 among a representative sample of 4005 adults in Great Britain. Of these, 1900 work full time (30 or more hours per week). The survey was carried out online. The national figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+) unless otherwise stated. Extrapolations throughout the release are calculated by Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts based on Office of National Statistics 2004 figures, which report that there are 57,103,027adults in the UK.

1. Research by Mercer Human Resource Consulting
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