Working After Hours is Damaging Employee Productivity: How to Tackle After Hours Work Stress

A recent survey has highlighted the negative impacts of working after hours, including an increase in work related stress. Below, we explore the survey’s findings and whether UK employees should have a right to disconnect. Then, we discuss steps employees could take to help reduce their stress at work.

Despite the UK having no specific legislation concerning disconnecting outside of regular office hours, employers still have obligations. If you believe your employer is breaching your employment rights, contact Redmans Solicitors now. We are employment law specialists and could advise on your possible next steps. Get in touch with us today by:

Working After Hours can Double Work Related Stress

Slack, the cloud-based productivity platform, recently surveyed the impacts of employees working after hours. The survey questioned over 10,000 full-time desk workers from several countries, including the US and UK, at different seniority levels.

Upon completing their research, Slack found that 37% of respondents admitted to working after hours at least once a week. They also learned that more than half only do so because of external pressure rather than by choice. Respondents who worked after hours due to pressure reported 20% lower productivity and double the work related stress and burnout.

Despite workers stating that 70% of their time is productive, regardless of whether they work after hours or not, other impacts were found. For example, those working after hours were found to be 50% more likely to be distracted by rivalling priorities. Furthermore, individuals who take regular breaks saw an increase in productivity and work-life balance by 13% and 62%, respectively. They also found their ability to manage stress at work increased by 43%.

Arianna Huffington, Thrive Global’s founder and CEO, compared employees working after hours to elite athletes. She explained how athletes “know that recovery is part of peak performance”, implying that employees should consider a similar approach.

Following their findings, the Slack study recommends determining the correct balance between work and rest. Doing so would enable employees to reach their optimal productivity levels.

Do Employees in the UK Have the Right to Disconnect?

In 2017, France led the way, becoming the first country to enact laws concerning an employee’s right to disconnect. Shortly after, Italy and Spain followed suit and legislated similar laws. These countries implemented such legislation, acknowledging the risks of employees working after hours and wanting to improve the workplace environment.

With this knowledge, UK employees may question if they, too, have a right to disconnect. Currently, there’s no specific law that establishes such. However, legislation like Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 provides some protection. Here, employers must take reasonably practicable steps to protect employees’ welfare, which could entitle individuals to rest periods. 

Despite this, there have been talks from Labour of legislating a right to disconnect should they come into power. The only question is whether this would effectively reduce stress at work since its focus would be on working after hours.  There would be no accommodation for stress caused during office hours, meaning legislators must consider things like flexible working to combat such problems.

Tips on How to ‘Check Out’ of Work

With working after hours being potentially detrimental to employees’ health and productivity, it’s vital they understand how to check out. A key factor that can prevent employees from being able to take a break from their job is ‘after-hours’ emails. So below, we outline steps employees can take to minimise this problem.

Firstly, employees should communicate effectively with their employer about company expectations. Addressing the demands of the business whilst ensuring the correct work-life balance is met is essential. By understanding this, employees can switch off after work without worrying if they should check their emails.

Secondly, if employees use personal devices for work, they should log out of company accounts after hours. Even if an individual doesn’t intend to work, notifications on their devices could prevent them from switching off.

Moving on, simply reducing electronic device usage on evenings and weekends could provide an employee more time to recharge. By setting screen time limits, individuals could remove the temptation to check their emails.

In addition, employees could ensure they cannot access their job’s material outside the workplace. Providing they don’t stay in the office, they wouldn’t be able to work when home, enabling them to check out.

Finally, setting personal goals for what employees want to achieve in their spare time can help. Individuals may decide to undertake a hobby, see family or relax and watch a film. Whatever the choice, making a clear divide between work and personal time can help individuals check out after hours.

Contact us now if you have any questions or believe your employer is breaching your rights. Redmans Solicitors have years of experience and could advise on how you could proceed. Begin your journey with us today by: