The TUC (Trade Union Congress) has raised concerns about the increasing intensity of work in the UK, leading to burnout among workers. According to a recent survey by Thinks Insight, more than half of workers (55%) feel that their work is becoming more demanding, and three out of five (61%) feel exhausted at the end of most workdays.
This trend has worsened compared to the previous year, with many workers spending more time outside of their contracted hours dealing with work-related tasks like emails and core work activities. Additionally, the survey found that women are disproportionately affected by work intensity, with a higher likelihood of feeling exhausted and reporting increased intensity.
The TUC highlights several contributing factors to this issue:
Surveillance technology and algorithmic management: Technology-driven productivity targets and constant monitoring force workers to work faster and intensively
Staff shortages: Low pay, excessive workloads, and lack of flexible work options create a staffing crisis, putting more strain on those who remain and leading to overwork
Inadequate enforcement of regulations: Regulations meant to safeguard against work intensification are not effectively enforced due to lack of resources
Decline in collective bargaining: Changes in industry and anti-union laws have reduced the ability for workers to collectively negotiate and address work-related issues
The TUC is urging government to take several steps to address the burnout issue, emphasizing that action is needed to prevent worsening burnout and work intensity:
- Introduce a 'right to disconnect' that allows workers to have proper rest breaks away from work
- Strengthen the enforcement of working time regulations by adequately funding the enforcement agencies
- Address public sector staffing issues by improving working conditions, ensuring proper pay rises, and reducing workloads
- Make flexible working a legal right from the start of employment, with the option to appeal rejections
- Promote collective bargaining to give workers more say in work organization and the impact of technology
- Introduce a statutory duty to consult trade unions before implementing AI and automated systems, ensuring workers' interests are protected